NewsBlack Women Artists Engage In Legal War

Black Women Artists Engage In Legal War

Two Black artists with similar styles are locked in a legal war over who’s allegedly copying the other and spreading conspiracy theories.

Two Black artists with similar styles are locked in a bitter legal war over who’s allegedly copying the other and spreading “false” conspiracy theories.

The legal battle between Deborah Roberts and Lynthia Edwards took new heights on Monday, March 11 when Edwards filed a counterclaim against Roberts for alleged defamation, ArtNet reports. Roberts was the first to file a copyright infringement lawsuit against Edwards and her gallery, the Richard Beavers Gallery, accusing them of copying her artwork.

However, according to Edwards, her artwork is rooted in her upbringing as a Black girl in the South, and while she and Roberts share common influences, like the Black collage artist Romare Bearden and the German Dada collage artist Hannah Höch, works by the two artists only possess “superficial similarity.”

In Roberts’ initial lawsuit, she alleged that Edwards was enlisted by the Richard Beavers Gallery to copy her works. Edwards denies these claims and accuses Roberts of monitoring her art practice through a private investigator unbeknownst to her. Her lawsuit calls out Roberts for allegedly using “a barrage of social media posts and private messages to spread her false conspiracy theory” and even preventing the lesser-known artist from showing at Expo Chicago and the Park Avenue Armory Show.

“Emboldened by the success of her big lie, Roberts has gone so far as to claim that Edwards has copied Roberts’s more recent use of black backgrounds in her works, which Roberts has said she began during COVID,” Edwards’s lawyers said.

“I see that you’re representing that girl in Pinson, Alabama who is ripping off my work. And I did get an attorney on her. We researched. She has no money. That’s the only reason I haven’t sued her,” Roberts allegedly said in the voicemail.

“But I’m telling you right now: If she continues to show my work and do my work, I’m gonna make it public. Public. The New York Times. I don’t care what I have to do. I’m gonna squash this.”

Roberts is accused of calling Edwards a “h*e” and the “bi*ch who’s copying me” in public and private messages, as well as recruiting popular artist Amy Sherald to defame Edwards.

“This is ridiculous,” Sherald wrote under an Instagram post celebrating Edwards’s art. “It’s a straight up Deborah Roberts copy.”

“Yes, if the gallery really wanted to help her they should be helping her develop her own voice and not copying my work,” Roberts shot back.

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Source: Black Enterprise

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