Alison Saar

Alison Saar

Born 1956

Artist Details

Birth Place
Los Angeles
Phonetic Spelling
AL-ih-suhn sahr
Drawing and prints; Painting; Sculpture
Places of Residence
Los Angeles; New York
Otis Art Institute of Parsons School of Design, Los Angeles, 1981; Scripps College, Claremont, California, 1974–78
Retrospective Exhibitions

Alison Saar: Bearing, Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco, California, 2015; Fertile Ground: Art on the Edge, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia, 1993; Directions–Alison Saar, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., 1993

NMWA Exhibitions

Revival, 2017
Alison Saar In Print, 2016
Trove: The Collection in Depth, 2011
From the Collection: Contemporary Figurative Prints, 2006
Steven Scott Collects: Donations and Promised Gifts to the Permanent Collection, 2005
Preserving the Past, Securing the Future: Donations of Art, 1987–1997, 1997–98

About the Artist

Alison Saar creates artworks that frequently transform found objects to reflect themes of cultural and social identity, history, and religion.

Saar credits her mother, acclaimed collagist and assemblage artist Betye Saar, with exposing her to metaphysical and spiritual traditions. Assisting her father, Richard Saar, a painter and art conservator, in his restoration shop inspired her learning and curiosity about other cultures.

Saar studied studio art and art history at Scripps College in Claremont, California, receiving a BA in art history in 1978. In 1981 she earned her MFA from the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles. In 1983, Saar became an artist-in-residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem, incorporating found objects from the city environment. Saar completed another residency in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1985, which augmented her urban style with Southwest Native American and Mexican influences.

Saar’s style encompasses a multitude of personal, artistic, and cultural references that reflect the plurality of her own experiences. Her sculptures, installations, and prints incorporate found objects including rough-hewn wood, old tin ceiling panels, nails, shards of pottery, glass, and urban detritus. The resulting figures and objects become powerful totems exploring issues of gender, race, heritage, and history. Saar’s art is included in museums and private collections across the U.S.

National Museum of Women in the Arts