The exhibition in Scottsdale is organized thematically in three sections: Red Time Room (political and racial), Sanctified Visions (mysticism and ritual), and Bridge of Memory (nostalgia and memory). Hanging overhead is the frame of a boat illuminated by blue neon and casting a wide shadow below. Saar started her adult life as a social worker and then later pursued her passion in art. Saar is known for her multimedia collages, box assemblages, altars and installations consisting of found materials. The strength, beauty, and poise of the seated black pregnant woman in Anticipation looks forward to the birth of her children and perhaps to the future empowerment of black women, but also backwards to the strength of the women who came before. As an early work, it stands as a signifier of work to come and a collection of important ideas from her whole life on which Saar draws: self-reflection that intersects with spiritual and cultural consciousness.4. It’s a way of delving into the past and reaching into the future simultaneously.” In her work, Saar voices her political, racial, religious and gender concerns in an effort to “reach across the barriers of art and life, to bridge cultural diversities and forge new understandings.” In 1998 with the series Workers + Warriors, Saar returned to the image of Aunt Jemima, a theme explored in her celebrated 1972 assemblage, The Liberation of Aunt Jemima. The copyright of these individual works published by the University of Minnesota Libraries Publishing remains with the original creator or editorial team. Using her own image as a black silhouette with hands pressed against the glass, Saar also includes her astrological signs, a tintype representing her own Irish grandmother and mixed heritage, a phrenology chart suggesting knowledge and thought, as well as a white skeleton manipulating a black skeleton. She was interested in visual arts already as a high school student and she took art classes at Pasadena City College. The title in the artwork itself represents a plethora of different ideas for me concerning the black female body in America. The centerpiece, Mojotech, 1987, is a fifty-foot long urban landscape incorporating a variety of charms, amulets, and voodoo symbols with printed circuit boards, electronic apparatus, and assorted technological pieces. She graduated from the University of California, and continued graduate studies at California State University at Long Beach, the University of Southern California, and California State University at Northridge. The concepts of passage, crossroads, death and rebirth have been underlying elements in much of my work. However, a printmaking class she took as an elective changed the direction of her artistic interests. For Saar, the towers embodied the spiritual and technological through found material. Between the dusty, dehydrated branches and the candles, the work seems to foretell a catastrophe. Leader by Betye Saar. Despite the fact that she might tell you she is not an “activist artist,” Saar has clearly influenced and inspired viewers who know that her work reveals many uncomfortable truths about our society and culture. Betye Saar was born in Los Angeles in 1926. My art continues to move in a creative spiral. Filling three of the four main galleries in the museum, the sprawling exhibition consists of over one hundred works including multimedia collages, assemblages, sculpture, works on paper, and specifically reconceived installations, all of which provides a deep and insightful look into the remarkable six-decade career of Saar. The exhibition represented the first solo exhibition of the artist at a European museum and included the first example of her work to enter a major European collection. Taking handkerchiefs left to her when a cherished aunt Hattie died and transforming them into art signified a break with printmaking and a move toward collage. All Yet like much of Saar’s life and work, the work transcends the designated themes. Betye Saar - Window of Ancient Sirens, 1979 - image via LA as a Center of Feminism and Art. A role model for generations of African-American women, Saar has raised three daughters, two of whom (Alison and Lezley) are accomplished artists. For uses beyond those covered by law or the Creative Commons license, permission to reuse should be sought directly from the copyright owner listed in the About pages. Mystery and beauty remain constant forces behind my creative energy. Yet with death, there is also life, and the cycle continues. Captivated by his use of boxes, she was already incorporating window frames with small compartments and then began searching secondhand stores and flea markets for unusual vessels.1 Scouting for objects in places like the Rose Bowl Flea Market led Saar to consider how she might use the offensive black collectibles that she encountered. Betye Saar is a native of California, who grew up in Pasadena during the turbulent times of the Great Depression. A.P., Private Collection; Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, New York, NY. Saar has received numerous awards of distinction including two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships (1974, 1984), a J. Paul Getty Fund for the Visual Arts Fellowship (1990), and a Flintridge Foundation Visual Artists Award (1998). In fact, the idea that objects contain emotional information is something in which Betye Saar firmly believes. While the title of the retrospective comes from a sculpture—a small tower of worn clock faces from 2005 that eulogizes her late ex-husband, Richard W. Saar—it could also be read as a comment on the continued importance of her work in the still racially inequitable society of today, in addition to references to the passage of time, the virtue of perseverance, or even the percolating sound of social unrest. Close in spirit to The Liberation of Aunt Jemima, Dubl-Handi (Blue), 1998, an outdated washboard with a black mammy figure, is transformed by the addition of two guns placed carefully in the woman’s hands. Keywords: 2.1, African American art, Betye Saar, contemporary art, Jennifer McCabe, Kara Walker’s About the title: The Ghostly Presence of Transgenerational Trauma as a “Connective Tissue” Between the Past and Present, Reflections on Teaching American Art History, Fata Morgana: Jean-André Castaigne, the American Indian, and American Artistic Aspirations in France, Exanimate Subjects: Taxidermy in the Artist’s Studio, Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia, Democratic Art: The New Deal Influence on American Culture, Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland, 1861-2008, American Studio Ceramics, Innovation and Identity, 1940 to 1979, NANITCH: Early Photographs of British Columbia from the Langmann Collection, Measured Perfection: Hiram Powers’ Greek Slave, The Artist’s Garden: American Impressionism and the Garden Movement, Home | Contact Publishing Services | My Account. Exhibition schedule: De Domijnen, Sittard, The Netherlands, June 28–November 15, 2015; Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Arizona, January 30–May 1, 2016. Betye Saar, Installation of Still Tickin’, 2016. The core of the exhibition is the middle gallery, aptly titled Bridge of Memory, which contains early, transformative, and recent works that intersect with the artist’s personal history and evokes a distinctly nostalgic tone. The period of Saar’s artistic maturation coincided with the intense social and cultural upheaval of the 1960s. Betye Saar, Still Ticking (2005). She graduated from the University of California, and continued graduate studies at California State University at Long Beach, the University of Southern California, and California State University at Northridge. During the 1950s she created enamel jewelry before marrying and starting a family. Near the door, an infant bed is filled with glass balls to remind the viewer of the fragility of childhood, while the many birdcages and globes reflect how we can be trapped in our bodies and our minds. Another widely-noted influence on Saar’s artistic development was the work of Joseph Cornell (1903–1972), which she first encountered in 1967 at the Pasadena Museum of California Art. Courtesy of the artist and Roberts & Tilton, Culver City, California. Photo: Tim Lanterman. Still Tickin’ strongly resonates within the racially charged border state of Arizona, next to Mexico, with a Mexican American population in constant and daily confrontation with discrimination. Over the years, each new installation incorporates plants native to the exhibition locale, and in Scottsdale the table sits amid a pile of tumbleweeds. Domestic objects, black collectibles, clock and scale faces, birdcages, vintage objects, stars, moons, hands, globes, and ladders are seen consistently throughout the galleries. Assemblage was also prevalent within the Los Angeles art community; it had become widely accepted following a 1961 Museum of Modern Art exhibition entitled The Art of Assemblage that brought the politically-themed works of California artists Ed Kienholz (1927–1994), Seymour Locke (1919–1994), George Herms (b. 1935), and Bruce Conner (1933–2008) wider recognition. The series begins with Aunt Hattie, 1977, and moves through a long list of important female figures in her life to whom Saar pays homage, including her own mother, a seamstress. About the Author(s): Jennifer McCabe is a doctoral candidate at the Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts, Arizona State University.


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