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Alumna Alison Saar Exhibition Silt, Soot and Smut in L.A. Times

Alison Saar's Breach
Alison Saar traces diasporas in the exceptional 'Silt, Soot and Smut' at L.A. Louver Gallery
Christopher Knight, Los Angeles Times

When the Great Mississippi Flood displaced hundreds of thousands of African Americans in 1927, many chose to keep on going. Impelled by the waters of the worst U.S. flood ever recorded, they joined another rising tide — a mass migration from the rural South to the urban Northeast, Midwest and West.

Cultural diaspora has been a prominent theme for sculptor Alison Saar for a long time, and it is a centerpiece of her magnificent new show at L.A. Louver Gallery. Displacement drives the monumental, 12-foot tall “Breach (large figure on raft),” a powerful nude figure balancing all her belongings atop her head. And it animates “Silttown Shimmy,” a smaller but no less potent pedestal sculpture of a woman wrapped in her own embrace.

“Breach” can be seen as specifically evoking the 1927 flood narrative, its lifesize figure poised atop a raft and using a pole to navigate the way. Saar positions her on a shallow plinth of wooden slats stained a mossy green, low enough to bring her face to face with a viewer but elevated on a pedestal nonetheless, suggesting eminence. A sturdy tower of strength, she carries with her an impossibly balanced stack of steamer trunks, suitcases, a frying pan, bucket, lantern and more domestic objects.

But Saar’s composition also disperses down related paths. The woman’s warm, sensuous, tactile brown skin is made from rusted plates of embossed ceiling tin, a uniquely American material. Her naked pose recalls Jim guiding Huck Finn down the Mississippi in a tale of conflicted yearning and liberation.

 

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Source: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/la-et-cm-knight-saar-review-20160614-snap-story.html

Image: Alison Saar: Silt, Soot and Smut, courtesy of L.A. Louver

 

Alison Sarr's ('81 MFA) latest exhibition, Silt, Soot and Smut is on view at L.A. Louver through July 1. In this body of work, Saar uses figuration to weave narratives relating to the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, sourcing inspiration from historical documentation, mythology, poetry, and music. On Thursday, June 23rd Saar is hosting a Listening Party of 1927 Mississippi flood era music that has informed her work. She also recently sat down with Otis College President Bruce Ferguson for a studio interview to discuss the themes that dominate her pieces and what lead her to create.