Alison Saar In Print

Lithograph print on a blue background portrays a nude woman laying horizontally across the length of the paper. In place of hair, a bottle tree appears to sprout from the figure’s head.
Jun 10 to Oct 02, 2016

Alison Saar’s compelling prints are inspired by the artist’s deep interest in history, identity, and cultures of the African diaspora. Saar works primarily in sculpture, often using found objects, and her vibrant prints—often created after her sculptures—incorporate related ideas and techniques. NMWA’s collection includes an array of Saar’s prints from throughout her career. This focus exhibition samples the museum’s holdings and also features related sculptures and prints from private collections.

Saar first observed printmaking and also learned about metaphysical and spiritual traditions through her mother, acclaimed collagist and assemblage artist Betye Saar. By assisting her father, Richard, a painter and art conservator, in his restoration work, Saar became intensely curious about visual art produced by a range of cultures. Her printed images are rich with allusions to spiritual beliefs. She often portrays people interacting with evocative objects such as snakes, frying pans, and knives. Saar also critiques cultural stereotypes, depicting figures that transform into brooms or consume cotton.

Experienced in numerous printmaking techniques, Saar favors the woodcut process, as her sculptures are often carved from wood. Her bold use of color infuses her subjects with a powerful energy. Against her prints’ spare backgrounds, the figures resemble freestanding sculptures, becoming potent distillations of Saar’s three-dimensional forms.

Full-length view of a light-skinned woman positioned with back to viewer contemplates her dark reflection in the frying pan she holds.

Alison Saar, Mirror Mirror: Mulatta Seeking Inner Negress II, 2014; Woodcut on chine collé, 40 1/2 x 23 1/3 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Promised Gift of Steven Scott, Baltimore, in Honor of Dr. Leslie King-Hammond, Dean Emerita of Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore; © Alison Saar; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

Exhibition Sponsors

Alison Saar In Print, presented in the Teresa Lozano Long Gallery of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, is organized by the museum and generously supported by the Louis J. Kuriansky Foundation, Inc., and the members of NMWA.