Just as there are multiple layers of paint and photography in Holly Roberts' work, there are also complex narrative stratum drawn from the artist's personal stories, world religions, and the cultural history of the American Southwest. In the 80s and 90s, Roberts became recognized for hauntingly dark painted photographs, which had a glow that appeared to emanate from obscured silver prints within.

Then, ten years ago, like the ancient Greek vase painters who reversed from black to red figures to gain expressive opportunity, she began collaging her photographic elements onto painted surfaces. Her animals and figures are now formed with cutout photos of trees, dried mud, Navajo blankets, snakeskins, newsprint, nests, and eyes in quirky and suggestive combinations. Roberts is part of the tradition of artists throughout the ages who have reinterpreted classical mythologies and religious parables to tell their own stories, bringing contemporary resonance to traditional tales.

She recently wrote, "Part of starting a new body of work is trying to think of ways to make images that are new...and my main battle is in not letting myself do what I know how to do." In the work pictured above, Young Woman Watching, Roberts spent weeks putting together different elements that resulted in a self-portrait from her childhood, something she didn't realize was happening until she finished.