Christy Roberts Berkowitz

Art with meaning encompasses much of Christy Roberts Berkowitz’s work. The crux of the Upland artist’s creative vision culls from a Jewish principle called tikkun olam, which aims to repair the world or to leave it more improved or healed than you found it.

My mom always made art,” Robert Berkowitz says, noting her mother Katie Roberts, who passed away last year after serving as an Ontario police officer for 42 years. “Even though she was a cop, she made art and played music, so that was always a part of my upbringing.”

Her mother’s death last year prompted the artist to apply for several grants so she could continue creating new and innovative works. A good thing. One look at the Upland artist’s vast portfolio, and it’s hard to dismiss her incredible drive.

Robert Berkowitz is known as an artist, musician, writer, and educator, but it’s her other roles that capture interest too, most notably “agitator” and “emotional laborer.” As such, the artist is all about composing memorable experiences, images, and objects that, “explore personal and collective constructions of power and agency.”

“I was going to go through law school,” she says, “but then I realized I was probably going to be a mediocre lawyer because I didn’t want to do it as much as I wanted to be an artist. So, I came home and told my parents I was going back to art school.”

In time, she’d go on to become a faculty member at the University of La Verne in the art, art history, photography, and Honors departments). Her work now stretches across many mediums—from art and performance to text, media, and music.  

She is also a founding member of The California Poppy Collective, Problematic Radio, Human Resources for Art Workers, and the Los Angeles Art Union. Her striking exhibitions and events have reached the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, MOCA Los Angeles, The Getty Museum, and many others.

Not to be left out: the dynamic artist is currently the 2023/2024 Creative Strategist in Residence for Los Angeles County.

Recently, Robert Berkowitz received a Creative Corps Inland SoCal grant through the Inland Empire Community Foundation. The grant is designed to assist artists and organizations to envision and co-create public projects, events, and media that touch upon everything from environmental matters and public health to social justice and civic engagement.

As a grantee, Roberts Berkowitz said the funds will allow her to fuel a bold artistic endeavor called “The Gardens,” which can be experienced through the Hoverlay app, a rising augmented reality platform that allows individuals to publish digital content in various spaces from AR channels, emails, and the internet.

I wanted to do a large project that exists in the augmented reality space so that it could be experienced across abilities and locations without a barrier to experiencing the work,” Roberts Berkowitz says. “The project will essentially be a large, augmented reality database of important native plants and how they have traditionally been used by the indigenous people in various locations here.”

Shelby Lorraine Lindsley, an MFA 2nd year student at Otis College, assists Christy with both research and programming

She goes on to say she was interested in the idea of “decolonization,” and what that looks like, noting that there may often be misunderstandings about the meaning of the word. 

“As far as our landscapes and ecosystems are concerned, it means returning the stewardship of the land back to indigenous practices that were developed to best care for the land,” she adds. “So, for Inland Empire, that would be the traditions of land-carrying that were kept by the Serrano and Cahuilla people.”

To that end, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians have selected the most important plants in six of the locations Roberts Berkowitz proposed. 

“We then set about documenting them and creating digital 3D models of them,” she says. “And creating an experience for people through a free Hoverlay app, which is mainly used for education and art purposes.”

The artist’s ambitions don’t stop there, however.

“We’re hoping to eventually have a physical community garden that grows these plants,” she shares. “The dream would be that local seniors would then be able to take the access crops and sell them at farmers’ markets, and local school kids could see all the plants represented in person. That’s the long-term dream.”

Learn more about christy roberts berkowitz at

Discover more at

This story originally appeared in the Press Enterprise December 2023.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Are you ready to plan
your will or trust?
Our free Estate Planning Guide can help:
Skip to content