By Cindy Garcia, Class of 2017 —
Car rides from New York City to New Hampshire every so often consumed most of Jennifer’s childhood. Coming from the very busy, fast paced city to a quiet, suburban neighborhood seem like two different worlds. Moving back and forth, from living in an apartment where you can hear all of the cars and people and constant sirens, to a one- family house where the most you hear are one or two cars every so often, is what her childhood and teenage years consisted of starting when she was six-years old.
“I was growing up in the 70s and 80s so it was a much different time, and none of my sisters and I friends were moving back and forth, we always felt like outsiders,” said Jennifer Roberts.
Roberts is a New York born, New York and New Hampshire raised artist who currently lives and works in Jersey City, NJ. Growing up, she attended three different high schools and eventually dropped out. But with the support and motivation from her grandmother, Roberts enrolled in a night school program to receive her high school diploma.
When it came time for college, she had her mind set on Parsons the only school she applied to. She felt it would have gave her the chance to live with her father again who was living in the city. She didn’t believe she had any luck in getting accepted because of her previous high school education, but she worked hard on her portfolio, which spoke louder than a grade point average.
“When I was accepted into Parsons I almost had a heart attack because I didn’t think I could do it,” said Roberts.
She came to Merseles after hearing from a close friend that there was a studio space for rental.
Along with working at Merseles Studios located in the Jersey City Theater Center in downtown Jersey City, she also works part-time at the Village West Gallery which is just a few steps away from her studio at Merseles. Roberts has been working 60 hours a week to prepare for a gallery that is coming up at the Village West and also working on her own pieces at Merseles.
Her pieces come from an emotional time of her life, her childhood. She can recall the day when she painted every single one of her pieces, similar to when others can recall what they were wearing or where they were when they heard a specific song for the first time.
“I always knew I loved to paint as a kid,” Roberts said. “But when I was in high school and I was having problems, art became sort of a release for me.”
Coming to Jersey City and renting a space at Merseles was an investment and commitment, but Roberts loves the energy there is and what the theater is all about.
“Don’t stop. Even if you feel tired or are working some crappy job, always try to make time to produce art,” advices Roberts to young artists. “When other people are asking you why you chose that path, don’t question it, just go for it.”