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The Ben Maltz Gallery continues its focus of presenting and documenting new work by artists in the region with the solo exhibition, STILL. . . by Otis alumna Alison Saar (MFA 1981). Being informed by artistic traditions from the Americas to Africa and beyond and from a mixed racial upbringing, Saar fuses her paradoxical responses to the black and white delineations of political and social forces into a powerful visual and kinesthetic tension. She uses the history and associations of her materials, everyday experience, African art and ritual, Greek mythology, and the stark sculptural tradition of German Expressionism to infuse the work with a primal intensity that challenges cultural and historic references and stereotypes. STILL. . . gathers together for the first time four never-exhibited works made during a residency at Pilchuck Glass School in Seattle with six new bronze and mixed-media sculptures.
Saar forcefully investigates elements of marginalization and discrimination in society to present poetic responses through a process of self-scrutiny and introspection as to how these historical burdens can be transformed and how symbolic atonement and even some measure of redemption can be imagined. Her work is especially relevant for this moment as it mirrors an entirely American process of spiritual and political bifurcation and the evolution of historical recovery. As Lowry Stokes Sims, Curator at the Museum of Arts and Design, writes in her essay for Feallan and Fallow, “Alison Saar’s library of references is as varied and rich as her own heritage. Her special gift lies in her ability to translate the personal and the culturally specific in such a way that it embodies concerns that not only transcend race but also gender.”
Saar is a mature and significant artist; a sculptor who has already achieved broad recognition for her studio and public art throughout the country. Her work is held in many collections including the Museum of Modern Art, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and Metropolitan Museum of Art; and she has major public art works in Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago. She has also received numerous prestigious awards including a Guggenheim Fellowship, Anonymous Was a Woman, and National Endowment for the Arts.
The forthcoming catalog, Alison Saar: STILL. . . (October, 2012), features an introduction by Meg Linton, Curator of the Exhibition; an essay by Dr. Barbara Thompson, Phyllis Wattis Curator of the Arts of Africa and the Americas at the Cantor Art Center, Stanford University; and poetry by Harryette Mullen; and full color reproductions of the work and installation.
Family Legacies: The Art of Betye, Lezley, and Alison Saar, by Jessica Dallow and Barbara C. Matilsky. Otis Library Catalog Listing.
Body Politics: The Female Image in Luba Art and the Sculpture of Alison Saar, by Mary Nooter Roberts and Alison Saar. Otis Library Catalog Listing.
“Alison Saar: Exalting Ambiguity,” by John O'Brien. Sculpture, January/February 2007, Vol. 26 Issue 1, p.28-31. Download PDF. (1mb, login required)
“The Art of Relationships,” by Eleanor Heatney. Art in America, October 2006, Vol. 94 Issue 9, p170-211. Download PDF. (4mb, login required)
“Reclaiming Histories: Betye and Alison Saar,” by Jessica Dallow,. Feminist Studies, Spring 2004, Vol. 30 Issue 1, p74-113. Download PDF. (5mb, login required)
“Interview Alison Saar” by Ronica Sanders Smucker, Art Papers, July/August 1994, p. 16-19. Download PDF. (3mb, login required)
Select Articles from artist's bibliography. Download PDF. (20mb, login required)
2011 Feallan and Fallow, Madison Square Park
2011 Bound for Glory, Lewis & Clark
2007 Harriet Tubman, New York City
Art Talk Radio Show, KCRW, by Edward Goldman, Aug 28, 2012
http://www.kcrw.com/etc/programs/at/at120828the_painful_beauty_ot (Archived audio and text of show)