In the Studio with Connie Roberts

In the Studio with Connie Roberts

Connie with one of her creations

Connie is our Second Sunday Guest in October!

Special thanks to Bethany Young (Iowa Artisans Gallery Manager of 15 years!)  for completing this blog by visiting with Connie Roberts and taking pictures of Connie and her studio!

IAG- Where did this whistle obsession come from?

Connie –

I first made some whistles for my nephews and kids and carved them into animal shapes…after that making sculptures that whistle just became the norm – I liked the challenge of engineering shapes that could also tweet.

At this point, it has become my signature.



IAG- I understand that you came to Iowa City from Los Angeles. Can you tell us a bit about growing up in such a big city?



Well, I grew up in suburbia - yes it was the LA area, but never a city like “Back East,” as we called the rest of the world.  In the 50’s and 60’s when I was growing up out there, the area was sparser – freeways, strip malls and drive in restaurants were in their infancy.  We were close to the beach, which I still miss, and were also only a few hours from the mountains – in between was a lot of rurality.  I came to Iowa City in 1972 for Grad School in painting, met my husband Mike and we both felt so at home we never left. Our kids were born here and went to the U of I, graduating with BFAs in art. Now I am more Iowan than anything else.




 IAG- Did you make art as a child? What kinds of art did you do?


Of course - I pretty much did everything, mimicking my older brother who drew and made models and stuff in the garage and entertaining my little sisters with cartoons, horsey pictures, sandbox towns, performances, and costumes.  I was drawing and painting from infancy – and already considering myself an artist in elementary school.


IAG- Do you do a self-portrait every month? I would love to see them as a show!



Yes, every month - often relating to the season or what’s on my mind at the time - or just interesting poses.  They are the opening page for each month in my daybook. Mike and I have been making our own sketchbooks and drawing in them since the mid 90’s.



IAG- Where do you get your ideas? Where did the Mother- in-Law idea come from? Is there a story there?


Well, the ideas come from everywhere – hard to pinpoint.  As to the Mother-in-Law - it’s about every married person’s secret desire and, of course, a cartoon and a joke…my own Mother-in-Law was a saint.  



 IAG- Where will your work take you in the next 5 years? What projects do you have going on now?


I am busy with some special gift items for the Houston Cinema Arts Festival in November.  I have been making specialized whistles for the various directors, producers, and performers who attend the event. It’s interesting and challenging and I am a big film buff, so it’s a labor of love  to make them – last year I did pieces for our very own Andrew Sherburne and Michael Zahs for the film Saving Brinton. This year I’ll be making whistles for the Kronos Quartet performers and director Richard Linklater among others.



Read an article from the Daily Iowan who wrote about Connie and her whistles.