Connie Roberts

Iowa City, IA


Constance Alyce Westvig Roberts creates carved wooden whistles, but this isn't always obvious at first glance. Trained as a figurative painter, Connie Roberts calls herself a "thing- maker." In her work, she bridges the realms of fine art and folk art and tackles many subjects with sharp wit and unrestrained humor.

Usually, the viewer gets caught up taking in all the images presented by these sculptural pieces: a wedge of chocolate cake with a birthday candle whistle, a dog angel, or perhaps a bag of whistling circus peanuts. Her work seems to follow three different tracks: popular culture, where, for example, real- looking candy bars with familiar names are altered slightly to bring new meaning such as Sneakers Bars or Nestegg Crunch.

Nursery rhymes, cartoon images, and political commentary are a few other themes that influence her ideas. Roberts is prolific in her creative range of ideas, which also find their way into larger, complex sculptures with whistle components. One of these was a piece for Steven Spielberg commissioned by the wife of well-known composer John Williams, commemorating the ten movies on which he and Spielberg collaborated. New York City Mayor Giuliani received a Big Apple sculpture with appropriate whistles inside. Other well-known collectors of Roberts' work include celebrities such as Robin Williams and Carol Burnett. 

Roberts also collaborates with her husband, Michael Roberts, an artist specializing in realistic portraits and allegorical paintings. Their portrait of Iowa Congressman Jim Leach currently hangs in the Portrait Gallery of the United States Congressional Banking Committee Chambers. California natives, the Roberts are long-time residents of Iowa.