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. Betye Saar - Window of Ancient Sirens, 1979 - image via artsy.net LA as a Center of Feminism and Art. While her work is certainly a reflection of the American melting pot and its related social issues, Saar’s art speaks to communities outside of the United States. Betye Saar is a native of California, who grew up in Pasadena during the turbulent times of the Great Depression. 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. At the cultural epicenter is the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, which recently featured a late-career retrospective of the distinguished artist Betye Saar (b. In 1960, a printmaking class changed the direction of Saar’s artistic production as she found a genuine interest in experimenting with texture, pattern, and surface manipulation. (Image Source) and detail.While investigating the artwork Leader by Saar, it is hard for me as a black woman not to look at it through the hermeneutical lens.It evokes feeling and realities surrounding my identity, cultural and historical. 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. 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). Betye Saar, Installation of Still Tickin’, 2016. © Betye Saar. While her work has been discussed in the context of black and feminist art, Still Tickin’ makes clear that Saar’s work has relevance in other social and cultural arenas as well. Much of my current work is about issues of race and gender; a return to my concerns of 1972 and The Liberation of Aunt Jemima. About the Author(s): Jennifer McCabe is a doctoral candidate at the Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts, Arizona State University. The monumental size and the unusual mix of materials reflect Saar’s fascination with the Watts Towers, conceived by Simon Rodia, in her childhood neighborhood. I used the scale as a physical object to determine that weight, how it just won’t go away, against black people, and others.3, Black Girls Window (1969) is a poignant and introspective mixed media work that is both autobiographical and reflective of the turbulent, racially-charged atmosphere of the 1960s. Betye Saar was born in Los Angeles in 1926. What began as a 1930s plastic mammy memo and pencil holder, in the hands of the artist, became a carefully constructed symbol of liberation and hope. Courtesy of the artist and Roberts & Tilton, Culver City, California, 35.75 x 18 x 1.5 in (90.8 x 45.7 x 3.8 cm), Collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York The Modern Women’s Fund and Committee on Painting and Sculpture Funds Courtesy of the artist and Roberts & Tilton, Culver City, California, 29 x 8.5 x 2.75 in (73.66 x 21.59 x 6.99 cm), Collection of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles Courtesy of the artist and Roberts & Tilton, Culver City, California, Collection of the Artist; Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, New York, NY, Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, New York, NY, Collection of the University of Michigan; Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, LLC, New York, NY. The Weight of Persistent Racism (Patented), 2014, a balanced tower of two antique scales, topped with a clock and black crow, refers to both the Jim Crow segregation laws and the continued impact of racism on the black community. Yet with death, there is also life, and the cycle continues. In Mojotech, Saar acts as a seer of culture, noting the then societal nascent obsession with technology, and bringing order and beauty to the unaesthetic machine-made forms by incorporating them into a stepped platform that recalls an altar. Still Tickin’ is Betye Saar’s testament that we should critically examine ourselves and our society from historical, social, and personal vantage points. Text, images, audio, and/or video in the Feminist Art Base are 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. The early training in design, printmaking, and even theater costume design plays a part in her work; Saar’s hand is precise and calculated and her understanding of material is exquisitely skillful. In 1994 Saar, along with artist John Otterbridge, represented the United States at the 22nd Biennial of Sao Paulo in Brazil. 1926). Born and raised in Los Angeles, and a lifelong Los Angelian, Saar graduated from UCLA in 1949 with a major in design. These formative artistic experiences together with her abiding interest in race as subject matter came together in Saar’s remarkable assemblages, called the Liberation Series, 1972, which are her best-known works. Born July 30, 1926 in Los Angeles, Betye Saar is a woman proud of her mixed African-American, Native American, Irish, and Creole heritage. 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. © Betye Saar. Her powerful transformations of found materials stand the test of time in the aptly titled exhibition, Still Tickin’. 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. 1935), and Bruce Conner (1933–2008) wider recognition. 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. 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. As Angela Davis has asserted, the black women’s movement began with the Liberation of Aunt Jemima. A role model for generations of African-American women, Saar has raised three daughters, two of whom (Alison and Lezley) are accomplished artists. Photo: Ashley Walker. Mixed media assemblage, 29 1/2 x 19 x 16 in. Saar has noted that the 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the rise of the Civil Rights movement caused her to shift her own artistic practice from printmaking to the work with found objects that first gained her notoriety in the art world.2 Another significant event for African Americans, especially in southern California, was the Watts rebellion of 1965—an episode born of police racism that stood as the most violent event until the Rodney King riots of 1992. Although the Liberation series is not included in the exhibition, there are a number of objects instilled with the same social and racial concern in the section of the exhibition entitled Red Time Room. Over the years, each new installation incorporates plants native to the exhibition locale, and in Scottsdale the table sits amid a pile of tumbleweeds. Photographed for University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive by Benjamin Blackwell. A Black Power fist, a shotgun, and a swath of Kente cloth accompany the mammy object within a shrine-like box. Betye Saar, Still Ticking (2005).