Betye Saar was born in Los Angeles in 1926. She graduated from the University of California, and continued graduate studies at California State University at Long Beach, the University of Southern California, and California State University at Northridge. Saar is known for her multimedia collages, box assemblages, altars and installations consisting of found materials. She states, “I am intrigued with combining the remnant of memories, fragments of relics and ordinary objects, with the components of technology. It’s a way of delving into the past and reaching into the future simultaneously.” In her work, Saar voices her political, racial, religious and gender concerns in an effort to “reach across the barriers of art and life, to bridge cultural diversities and forge new understandings.” In 1998 with the series Workers + Warriors, Saar returned to the image of Aunt Jemima, a theme explored in her celebrated 1972 assemblage, The Liberation of Aunt Jemima. Saar has received numerous awards of distinction including two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships (1974, 1984), a J. Paul Getty Fund for the Visual Arts Fellowship (1990), and a Flintridge Foundation Visual Artists Award (1998). In 1994 Saar, along with artist John Otterbridge, represented the United States at the 22nd Biennial of Sao Paulo in Brazil. In 2005, the University of Michigan Museum of Art organized the traveling exhibition Betye Saar: Extending the Frozen Moment which examined her incorporation of photographic fragments in her work. A role model for generations of African-American women, Saar has raised three daughters, two of whom (Alison and Lezley) are accomplished artists. Saar continues to work and live in Los Angeles. Michael Rosenfeld Gallery is the exclusive representative of Betye Saar.
Feminist Artist Statement
"I am a mixed media collage, assemblage and installation artist. The concepts of passage, crossroads, death and rebirth have been underlying elements in much of my work. My art continues to move in a creative spiral. Much of my current work is about issues of race and gender; a return to my concerns of 1972 and The Liberation of Aunt Jemima. Mystery and beauty remain constant forces behind my creative energy. This is the energy that spins the spiral."
--Betye Saar, 2007
View Betye Saar's CV (PDF)