Born in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Roberts has had a life-long fascination with the history and life of the Pueblo Indians which inspired her to become an artist. She studied art at the Colorado Fine Art Center in Colorado Springs from 1955 to 1957 and at the University of New Mexico from 1957 to 1959. Most influential on her work were her teachers at the University of New Mexico, abstract expressionist Elaine de Kooning, impressionist Randall Davey, Taos artist Kenneth Adams, and Santa Fe artist Jozef Bakos.
Guided by her Native American heritage (she is part Cherokee) and by a fascination for color, she created her internationally exhibited Blanket series of pastel paintings. Large canvases are inhabited by images of blanketed Indian women seen from the back in geometric patterns in vivid, bold colors.
Roberts has created several long series in an expressionist style, turning more and more to the abstract as her work progressed. With her Tablita Vision series of the headdresses of New Mexico Pueblo dancers, she, as her biographer Louise Turner states, “has continued to progress in the direction of abstracted symbol and the literal objects symbolized.”
Since 1999 her work embodies more animal imagery, as evidenced by the appearance of the snake. In Roberts’ own words: “To this artist, painting the Serpent is a powerful participation of a Myth. The Serpent is symbolized by curves, patterns of light and dark in glistening paint. The infinite subject. The limitless composition. A perpetual mystery.”