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Meet Danielle DeRoberts (Onerary)

Today we’d like to introduce you to Danielle DeRoberts (Onerary).

Danielle, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I was born an autumn baby of the late ’70s in Bayshore, N.Y. and later went on to study painting and printmaking at SUNY New Paltz located in the Hudson Valley outside of NYC. I grew up in a home with the most loving family, with my grandparents, sister and mother. I never knew a time that I wasn’t creating or being expressive. At the age of five, I vividly recall being fascinated with the other side of life, the unknown, what is life, who are we… feeling deeply connected, knowing there was an emotive and empath sense about who I was early on. My mom was a single, hard-working, strong woman who went above and beyond for my sister and I, creating a childhood filled with unconditional love, magical moments with lots of hugs, dance, music, creativity, and, most importantly, joy through simple everyday things.

While our mother and grandmother continued to work, it was our grandfather who took care of us daily, the value in this was priceless. He embodied true compassion and lived life in the moment with such gratitude. We were blessed to be raised, by what we consider, three parents, between the strength of our mother and the wisdom of our forever loving grandparents. They truly were everything to my sister and me, guess you can say a family of soulmates. You asked me to walk you through my story. I mention my family because they are the essence to the root in all I do. As I begin to answer these questions, today happens to be the 20th year anniversary of my mother’s passing from cancer. Believe in following the signs.

A few months before my mother passed away, I had a transformative moment as a painter while working on a portrait for my thesis exhibition of my dear friend Ali’s father. Whom I have never met and had passed away from a tragic incident a few years prior. I will never forget that night in my college studio, what felt like rising into my true self, channeling energy in the moment through creating this “soul” portrait, it all began to feel effortless. How did I know him through this process? What is this feeling that is familiar, one that makes so much sense. This is what I am meant to do. Years to follow, I became more aware of the work I was creating and its purpose. Honoring the dark work to navigate through to the light. Going beyond form into the formless. Help to bring healing to others, and within myself, to know the unknown, and connect back to SOURCE. I believe a huge part of me foreshadowed what was to come from the creation of that painting to the passing of my mother only two months later, putting me on a path that would continue to reinvent me again and again in this lifetime.

I began to manifest a unique passage in our family lineage, wanting to live life on terms that felt right for me, one that was authentic and honored the voice inside of how I wanted to be in the world. I continued to learn more on the origin of the soul, human and being and the connection between our internal and external state. Through art, I wanted to activate healing for mental and internal emotional health, turn inward, feeling into the body, and inspire through intention. The years to follow, I found myself in and between Brooklyn, NY, San Francisco, CA and Telluride, CO. Each place in environment, culture and community has aided into the person I am today.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I do not believe I would be where or who I am without the rock bottoms in my life’s journey. Challenging times let me navigate through to who I am meant to be, with resilience to expand in purpose. As an emotive artist, with a focus on internal soul healing, the time I grew up didn’t seem as open to the type of art I was creating. With fellow artists in various times and places, we created our own way of being seen and heard. Today, more than ever, I feel the world may be ready to open up to the artist I have always been.

I look inward and sit with the dark times, which become invitations to be better. These moments provide confidence to deepen the development of my technique and extend the message further through my art. To fully merge all the styles that I have developed, a balance of line, sewing, thread, painterly transparent fabric inks, unfinished forms. Realizing that in every technique and movement, there is an underlying concept to why I create the way I do, revealing a truth. Meditation as I work on feeling, not thinking. My art has evolved with the transformation of my internal mental state through time. From weighted heavy paints and canvas to light fluidity fabrics, less weighted and clear. What you work out in the process as an artist, you are working out in life.

I want to acknowledge the support I’ve had from early on when I set out to be a committed artist. From my family and friends that continue to show up. Not sure where I would be without this kind of love. I love you all.

We’d love to hear more about your art.
“Onerary,” originally named for a creative, urban fashion line I founded between S.F., C.O. and N.Y. Upon moving to San Francisco in the spring of 2004, my roommate at the time and now lifetime friend, Erin Rockmore, brought this word to my attention. When asked about ideas for names for my line, to express connection from dreams to becoming a reality, to communicate within dreams. She mentioned, Oneraria, (Onerary) to be in a dreamlike state –  which for me, transforms that state of being into active daily living. This word ties into “Oneiromancy”- the divination by means of dreams.

Onerary became more than a word. It became a lifestyle. Infused with empathy, mysticism, art, design, creation, collaboration, connection, meditation, living with intention… tying all the threads together. In concept, “Onerary” is a part of me encompassing all in one. It holds all the beings I have met along this journey, continue to meet, and carry with me, while releasing the parts I need to let go of. This translates into art and process, and has emerged into the feeling of, “Soul Activism,” I believe we are all instruments for action in the world, when we care for our internal environments we can truly become active in the world and fight for all humanity, activate Soul, and align with a spiritual purpose.

The paintings are channeled dreamlike vessels to communicate and connect. Technique wise, you will notice the hand embroidering into paintings, backlighting and expanding them onto walls, creating textured pieces that spring to life. Transforming the two-dimensional paintings into three-dimensional mural installations. You may even hear songs and quotes written throughout the pieces. From painting on fabric to painting on walls, I challenge myself to explore different mediums to give a similar effect and feel, which provides me with a sense of balance within painting tools. Metaphorically, this becomes freeing in the moment and leading to new discoveries of who I am.

Through the art I’ve created it has brought so many people into the life around me. Bringing individuals together, to take part in moments they may not have done otherwise. Remind others and myself, of who we are, what we are capable of, connect to their Soul’s voice, inspiring each other to shine our brightest light and loving the dark parts just as much. Understand ourselves deeply, to be better to ourselves, each other and communities we live in. I desire to provide a space where others feel welcome to be completely themselves and move into their power. I like to think of it as not what sets me apart from others, but what welcomes others in.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I recently had a big life change this past fall. After 8 years in Telluride, CO, I moved to Boulder in October 2019.

The past few years I have been involved in collaboration with other artists and various art projects between Denver and Boulder, then I was gratefully accepted into the Boulder Creative Collective (BCC) 2020 Artist Residency. Currently working on my upcoming series, “Live in Surrender” This body of work focuses on exploring internal environments collectively as females, from suppressed trauma in life, past lives and ancestry ties. Healing inward out.

I’m looking forward to more collaborations in art and social activism, with other artists and mindful organizations. This past year I have had incredible opportunities to paint public murals in Fort Collins, Denver and Boulder. Public art welcomes the stimulation of dialogue open to anyone, and encourages the long-term prosperity of the social and natural environments in which we live. I will continue to paint walls that welcome me and my creative vision, through it- fighting for necessary change in this country, the planet and humanity.

Lastly, looking forward to extended hugs with loved ones, one day soon… and lots of dance parties.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Main photo credit – black and white image of me- Unboxed Photography
The rest I took except one other from a friend- Chris Warren.

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