For this month, Winnipeg River Arts Council revisits previously featured artist Roberta Laliberte. Born in Pine Falls, she ended up living one house away from the home where she was raised. When she was a child, she started simply copying things she loved, such as Disney cartoons. As a teen, she studied as many art instruction books as she could find and became a gifted copyist. She said, “This is a common problem with self-taught artists.”
In the early 1990’s, Laliberte attended fine art school in Sackville, New Brunswick. Although she did not complete this course, she got a broader sense of who she was as a creator. As quality art instruction on the internet became more accessible, Laliberte started taking online classes and soon started teaching them.
Recently, she has worked as a teaching artist through the Manitoba Arts Council, and led workshops in St. James-Assiniboia School Division. Various schools have hired her to work with students and provide professional development for staff. She leads paint nights and arts classes for all ages and will soon be offering pottery classes at her studio in Pine Falls.
Laliberte now works mainly with mixed media and water-colour on paper and canvas but recently re-discovered her love of pottery. In the spring, an opportunity to teach high school art reawakened this former interest as well as providing enough funds to purchase a kiln.
Like many artists in the region, Laliberte gets inspired by nature. She also likes the idea of marrying function with aesthetic. Form and function have recently become important influences as she contemplates what she creates and why.
“I feel that my style is becoming less fussy and I am always trying to pare it down to the essence. Regardless of what I am doing and how I am doing it there is an underlying need to create something.”
Last summer, she contributed a captivating portrait of a fox to WRAC’s popular paddle auction. She has had several group exhibitions and recently her first solo show, “North of 49,” was featured in Syracuse, New York. Also, the Boreal Shores Art Tour has included her work, since its inception.
Although people tend to think that artists are born with amazing ability, Laliberte believes failure is a part of the process. She advises anyone who feels pulled to create to dive right in – “practice makes perfect.”
“If you keep a playful spirit, being creative can be a fulfilling part of everyday living. We were all born with wonder and curiosity. For some reason we tell ourselves we aren’t capable or qualified, but there is no right or wrong way to create.”