My life in layers, my journey is a continuous weaving of teachings from my grandparents, parents, culture, our history, people I’ve met and experiences… for better or worse, it is me weaving the past with my present into the future. Because of that, no matter where I am, how much I miss the rez, the land… I will always be home.
This is the way.
I come from a family of medicine, and I weave paintings.
I am the Bitterwater clan, Tódích’íi’nii.
I am born for the Zuni-Edgewater clan, Naasht’ézhi Tábaahá.
Maternal grandparents : Towering House clans, Kiyaa’áanii.
Paternal grandparents : Bitterwater clans, Tódích’íi’nii.
Five Fingered Earth Surface person.
Nahoka Dine’h Bi’la ashdlaa’ii’.
Roberta hails from the Navajo Nation, born in Fort Defiance, Arizona and raised in Kayenta, Arizona; attended Monument Valley High School and transferred to and graduated from Ganado High School, both schools in the Navajo Nation. She is descendent of medicine people and traditional rug weavers, both maternal and paternal grand and great-grandparents.
After high school Roberta declined a stint in the Marine Corp and chose to care for her grandmother, Marie Y. John, a medicine women, herbalist, and traditional Navajo rug weaver in the Wide Ruins style.
“ My grandmother Marie, spoke only Navajo (Diné bizaad), raised churro sheep, grew organic heirloom corn and lived the traditional ways. She was hard working; strong, yet gentle; dedicated to her family and her traditions. She was everything to me! Since her passing in 2014, portions of her traditional rug designs find their way into my paintings.
In this way I honor her.
She continues to weave , as I continue to paint.
I weave paintings, or perhaps she was painting weavings…”
With a desire to be of service and a calling for EMS / Rescue work, Roberta completed EMS training in 1995, which was a true calling, and a very labored decision given that dealing with sickness and death is often taboo subject matter with the Diné (Navajo) people.
Since 2002, Roberta has been employed as a Firefighter with Kirtland Air Force Base Fire Department, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Roberta is a self-taught artist and considered her work until more recent years, as “ just doodling”.
As she became more serious about her art spirit began to reveal itself, and she began to listen.
“I will always remember a specific powerful moment in June 2017, right after a successful Art Show. My hands had a &buzzing& feeling. I looked down at my palms and finally acknowledged the Creator’s gift I was given.“ This wasn’t just doodling.
Roberta has one lovely, independent offspring, inspiring much parental pride; her name is Ophelia.
Roberta of Bitterwater-Arts houses her brushes and pigments in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
She weaves paintings…