Estelle L Roberge
Estelle L Roberge
Book of Covid: Unbound
Like many of us, because of the pandemic, I spent much time alone, and because I became more cautious of my social associations, I intensely missed human interaction. As an artist, it became difficult to focus on painting and I experienced various states of panic. But because I practice book binding, I had an empty text block in my studio and began to make collage entries, a visual diary that became an essential part of my artistic practice. The process of making a collage involves cutting, measuring, tracing, drawing, coloring and pushing colored and patterned papers on a surface. As I became more deeply involved in the collage process, a calming element emerged and I began to overcome that underlying sense of panic. I found myself entering states of quietude and tranquility, even though everything around had seemed to fall to pieces: jobs, schools, hospital care and most of all the enormous loss of life. Images in the collages began to reflect my experiences of isolation, of memory and melancholy, of hope, and of nature. I worked for hours at my studio table, examining and re-examining compositional arrangements, yellow juxtaposed to red, orange juxtaposed to patterns of violet and green, areas of marbled paper, repeated patterns and textures. The content included my observations of wildlife at a nearby bird refuge which I frequented. I found myself drawing birds, especially cranes, photographing them. Slowly, I felt a renewed sense of well being. I traversed between inner voices and outer observations when frequenting the nearby mountains for walks. When I returned home, I felt uplifted. My friends also surfaced in my work. I began to document those that I missed, along with gestures of birds in flight. Thus, my Book of Covid: Unbound, through which I found balance and well-being, during a very insecure time.
Estelle L. Roberge was born in Biddeford, Maine, the sixth of nine children, and grew up in a Franco-American Irish-Canadian household, surrounded by industrial factories and triple decker tenement buildings. She graduated from nearby Portland School of Art and the University of Southern Maine in the 1980s and later traveled west in search of employment, finally making a home in Magdalena, New Mexico where she taught art. Recently, she has returned to an early interest in the human figure. In this body of work, she traverses and wanders between figuration and the imaginary as she goes deeper into fields, shapes, textures, patterns, and layers of color.