Urgent Museum Notice

In Focus: Alison Saar Transcript

A woodcut print shows a barefoot Black woman from the back at a slight angle holding a washtub. Her face is visible only via the reflection in the tub water.

Artists at Work Video Series: Alison Saar


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[Alison] I’m Alison Saar; I’m an artist, primarily working in sculpture but also doing painting and drawing or whatever else suits the needs of the piece.

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I consider myself primarily sculptor, even though I never actually took any sculpting classes.

The techniques have always been what I had access to.

Most of my materials and tools are things that I can just get at the hardware store.

I’m very tactile.

My hands always kind of like have a mind of their own, are experiencing the world on their own.

I love the idea of people being able to touch and experience the work.

It’s important for me to somehow make a connection with the audience.

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The early work was not necessarily so female-centric.

When I had my first child, I thought, wow, this is a really incredible machine that we have.

I just really felt that the figure was a really familiar launchpad to kind of talk about serious, sometimes dark, sometimes emotional things.

So much of the abuse and inequities that we experience here are a direct result of African-American enslavement in the United States.

I’m really interested in looking at how we have endured these wrongs for so long, looking at current events through the past historically.

I love NMWA because it feels like this sort of sisterhood.

You go, and you see that there’s this whole wealth of variety and diversity.

I’m really honored to be included in a collection of strong, powerful female artists.

For me, it feels very much that there’s this spirit involved in the work, and it’s this idea that the art opens doors for people to see the edge of where our world ceases and the spirit world begins.

My work talks about issues of gender, race, and equity,

our history and our present,

love and compassion,

and hopefully helps guide us towards a brighter future.

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