BAC Community Spotlight: Pamela Roberts

August 2018


Pamela Roberts


How did you arrive at the Brookline Arts Center?

Years ago, I brought two of my three children to the original "Moms, Dads, & Tots" morning art program. My first "adult" class was a one-day workshop on photo emulsion. That piqued my interest in working with fabrics; the BAC's Batik Class was the natural next step. I've been doing batik here for about 18 years. Along the way, I've enjoyed other classes, such as acrylic/colored pencil, jewelry/silversmithing and print making. There are more classes that I WANT to try!


Tell us about your background. How did you become interested in art? 

I grew up in southern Maine; my mother's family had a number of artists. She encouraged me to work on my art at an early age. There were always reams of blank paper and drawing pencils available. I used to create my own "comic books", mixing fairy tale stories with outer space themes. In junior high, I had two years of private lessons from a local artist, in order to refine my drawing skills, as well as explore different techniques. When it came time for college, I wanted to utilize my creativity, but also was trying to be realistic about finding a career. Majoring in Graphic Design & Publishing Arts at Simmons College was the solution! I did graphic design and production for years in advertising agencies and investment firms, as well as worked on my own for a bit. I left my job as a designer with Fidelity Investments after the birth of my second child.


What passions do you bring to the BAC community?

 I love COLOR. I love PEOPLE. I love trying NEW THINGS. I love MAKING A MESS (haha, sorry about that, teachers).


What do you enjoy most about the BAC? 

The Brookline Art Center is a small organization, yet through it I have connected with people of all ages from all over eastern Massachusetts, China, Japan, Ireland and Israel. At the BAC, I've taken classes with lawyers, doctors, teachers, retirees, teenagers, a piano tuner and more. Our batik class is important to the group. We celebrate and commiserate each other's life moments, encourage each other's creativity and revel in each other's finished pieces. We learn from each other, we boldly copy each other. We share book and movie titles, and solve the world's problems as we sink our hands into a vat of dye. It's the least-known therapy group in Brookline!


What was your favorite childhood art project? 

I was away at overnight camp in Maine when the Apollo Moon Landing happened on July 20, 1969. To celebrate the coming landing, the counselors issued a poster contest: the posters would commemorate the event, but also needed to tie into our camp. The winner would go on a special late-night canoe ride, when all the other campers were abed. My friend Julie couldn't draw a lick, but I took her on as my partner, so that we could enter as a team. We easily won the poster contest and took that sweet ride, as the moon shone down over the lake, and the loons called out.


Who are some of your art heroes?

George Summers, my batik teacher at the BAC, is a particular hero of mine. Supporting oneself as an artist is not for the faint-hearted; most can't do it. George makes it work, and somehow keeps his creativity flowing. He takes trips abroad that stimulate, as well as educate. He is a fantastic teacher and mentor. Rather than tell his students what HE would do, George lets a student make the ultimate decision, and own the piece. But he also doesn't let us rest on our laurels; he will prod us to take a piece to another color or two, even when we are feeling that we've reached a "safe" stage.
Another artist I admire greatly is Brookline's own Janet Echelman. Janet does large-scale outdoor aerial sculptures. If you strolled along the Rose Kennedy Greenway in the summer of 2015, you most likely walked under her floating piece called, "As If It Were Already Here." Using rope and steel cables, she creates butterfly-like, wafting pieces that suspend over city squares, in airport terminals, over European canals and in art galleries. Sometimes lights are used to create an effect of waves. It's not uncommon to see people lying flat under her artwork, lost in revelry as they gaze straight up! What a powerful effect on humanity she has.