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Alison Saar: STILL...

Aug 18, 2012
August 18 – November 17, 2012
Spotlight Category: Exhibition

Curator: Meg Linton

Informed by artistic traditions from the Americas to Africa and beyond, and by her mixed racial upbringing, Alison Saar (’81 MFA) 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 her 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 is a mature and significant sculptor who has 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 received numerous prestigious awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, Anonymous Was a Woman, and the National Endowment for the Arts. She 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 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.”

The catalog, Alison Saar: STILL . . . (October, 2012), features an introduction by Meg Linton, Curator of the Exhibition and OTIS Director of Galleries and Exhibitions; an essay by Dr. Barbara Thompson and Phyllis Wattis, Curator of the Arts of Africa and the Americas at the Cantor Art Center, Stanford University, and full-color reproductions of the work and installation.

This exhibition is funded in part by Contemporary Collectors — Orange County. Special thanks go to Decker Studios, L.A. Louver, John David O’Brien, and Otis Continuing Education and Alumni Relations.


Saturday, September 15, 4–6pm, Free
Public Reception Meet Alison Saar and enjoy live music by Sunny War, a singer/songwriter from Nashville, Tennessee who plays punk inspired blues.

Saturday, September 22, 10am–4pm, $25
Otis Alumni Gallery & Studio Tour Otis Alumna Alison Saar tours her exhibition STILL . . . in the Ben Maltz Gallery followed by lunch and a bus tour to local Otis alumni studios and galleries.

Sunday, November 4, 2pm, Free, Reservation Required
Conversation Alison Saar in conversation with Sarah Lewis about art, race, and gender.

Saturday, November 17, 3–5pm, Free
Poetry Reading and closing reception Author Harryette Mullen reads her poetry at a closing reception for the exhibition

Harryette Mullen is the author of several poetry collections, including Recyclopedia: Trimmings, S*PeRM**K*T, and Muse & Drudge, winner of a PEN Beyond Margins Award, and Sleeping with the Dictionary, a finalist for a National Book Award, National Book Critics Circle Award, and Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Her poems have been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, Polish, German, Swedish, Danish, Turkish, and Bulgarian. She teaches American poetry, African American literature, and creative writing at UCLA. A collection of her essays and interviews, The Cracks Between What We Are and What We Are Supposed to Be, is due from University of Alabama Press in 2012. Her Tanka Diary is forthcoming from Graywolf Press in 2013.


Press Release / Slideshow / Video: Walk-Thru / Video: Installation
Materials for Teachers & Students: Curricular Connections
Reviews: Art in America / Artillery / Artscene / ArtweekLA / Huffington Post / Art Talk

Curricular Connections: Saar Exhibition