Oris Robertson Study in Mexico Scholarship
Although Oris Robertson left an impression in the Latin American art world, he left a legacy at The University of Texas at Brownsville. Robertson was active in the Brownsville community, having taught art classes at the Art League where many local artists benefited from his lessons.
Robertson’s paintings have been shown in various galleries in the United States and Mexico, including the Wright Gallery in New York. Some paintings were also auctioned at the Latin American Art Show at Sotheby’s.
Oris Trigue Robertson, Jr. was born in 1937 in Presidio, Texas, which is across the border from Ojinaga and Chihuahua, Mexico. When he was just eight years old, his father’s work brought Robertson and his family to Brownsville, where he attended public school until the age of 16. His father was then transferred to Lubbock where Robertson graduated from high school.
After spending time pursuing a career in theatre, Robertson went back to school to study commercial art at Texas Southmost College, the San Francisco Art Institute and the University of Houston where he earned his degree in fine arts in 1968.
It was in 1970 that Robertson moved to Mexico for artistic motivation. In his youth, Robertson often visited Mexico with his father. Robertson first lived in Puerto Vallarta where the subject of many of his paintings was fish and boys riding their bikes.
He then moved to Guadalajara where he developed a sui generes, or a unique genre of painting that have come to be some of Robertson’s most appreciated and memorable works.
He was most known for his depictions of ofrendas, altars for the dead. His paintings of alters often contained images of saints, displayed trinkets and combined colorful tapestries with ceramics and floral arrangements.
“Mexico has given me the best gift life can bring: it has let me be myself,” Robertson said before his death in 2002. “I often ask myself what would have become of my art and inspiration if I had not moved to Mexico.”
Robertson’s poignant pieces and immaculate brush strokes have continued to make a lasting impression on local aspiring artists, and led to an endowment at UTB in his honor.
The Oris Robertson Art Endowment provides students and professors the chance to seek inspiration in Mexico, as Robertson did, through study and painting.
Currently four students and a professor from UTB have traveled to Mexico following in the footsteps of Robertson, where he created some of his best-known works.