Exhibition of powerful prints of American artist Alison Saar opens at Chazen Museum of Art

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Exhibition of powerful prints of American artist Alison Saar opens at Chazen Museum of Art
Alison Saar (American (b. 1956)). Coup de Grace, edition 6/16, 2012. Lithograph. 19 ¼ x 25 in. 2015.31.

MADISON, WI.- A retrospective of the vital and articulate prints of prominent American artist Alison Saar (born 1956) underscores her persistent dialogue with some of the most urgent issues of our time, including race, gender and spirituality. Mirror, Mirror: The Prints of Alison Saar, from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation features nearly 40 works from the artist’s robust body of printmaking over the last 35 years, as well as 5 sculptures, drawn from a renowned private collection. The exhibition is on view at the Chazen Museum of Art in Madison, Wisconsin, June 5 through Aug. 8, 2021. The Chazen recently acquired nine prints by Saar, which are represented in the Chazen collection. In all, the Chazen holds 15 prints and one sculpture by the artist.

Mirror, Mirror: The Prints of Alison Saar, from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation was organized by the Weatherspoon Art Museum at the University of North Carolina Greensboro.

“Alison Saar’s decades-long explorations of the African American experience as filtered through her personal symbolism connect to today’s essential conversations around racial reckoning and cultural belonging,” said Amy Gilman, director of the Chazen. “The museum believes this visionary work is crucial viewing for all of our diverse communities and audiences.”

Saar, who is based in Los Angeles, where she was born and raised, is known for her incisive sculptures, multimedia installations and printmaking that reflect a broad range of creative influences, including ancient Greek and African forms and American folk art. In all of Saar’s wide-ranging work the artist has unflinchingly tackled complex personal and political subject matter with an eye towards accessibility and meaningful exchange.

Mirror, Mirror spotlights Saar’s innovation and versatility in both printmaking and sculpture, demonstrating the artist’s use of a variety of techniques and materials – lithography, etching, woodblock prints, found objects and installation work. Her inventive styles and strategies in one medium often merge unconventionally and tangibly overlap with the other, when for example printing on layers of used fabrics such as vintage handkerchiefs and antique sugar sacks, or when carved woodblock prints parallel her approach to sculptural objects in wood.

The exhibition’s imagery focuses predominantly on solitary women in various poses reminiscent of historical African deities and ancient Greek statuary. In many of Saar’s works, she charts the tragic history of slavery in America, but her figures telegraph defiance and strength. Other recurring motifs are jazz, gender roles and desire. Among the exhibition’s highlights are the prints Sweeping Beauty (1997), Washtub Blues (2000), Cotton Eater (2014) and Black Bottom Stomp (2017) and the sculptures Mirror, Mirror (Mulata Seeking Inner Negress) (2006) and White Guise (2018).

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June 21, 2021

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