Inspired initially by his fascination with the natural beauty of Vermont, as well as the opportunity to pay homage to Helen & Scott Nearing, the well-known back-to-the-landers who spent a significant amount of time living a simple farming life in Jamaica Vermont beginning in the early 1930s and writing about their experiences in Living the Good Life and Continuing the Good Life, Roberts, a modern-day environmentalist in his own right and sort of contemporary landscape artist, was eager to do a show that was by for and about Vermont.
In the past, Roberts employed direct representation and the use of pop culture symbolism to get his message across. Known for his fun and kitschy use of text in the form of sayings and initials carved into the trunk of a tree for example, Roberts engaged the viewer in sometimes laugh-out-loud and often arresting conversations about “nature's subtle way of dealing with the peculiar aspects in its relationship with mankind.”
In his current exhibition, wildernessoverload, Roberts has elevated his craft by, ironically, incorporating the “less is more” philosophy. Leaving just enough detail to hint at stories of wilderness magic and intrigue while editing each piece to a spare yet elegant composition, it is perhaps what is not said, that creates the tension that draws the viewer in and causes one to ask what is beneath this serene surface, this delicate veil? With such sparse detail, it’s hard to believe, but Roberts has the viewer convinced of time and place. Looking at each image, there is the sense that this spectacle could not have happened anywhere else or at any other time.