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The Woods Within: Alison Saar

DATES October 13, 1995 through September 08, 1996
COLLECTIONS Contemporary Art
  • October 13, 1995 Alison Saar will create a large-scale, sculpture installation in the Grand Lobby of The Brooklyn Museum, which will open on October 13, 1995 and continue through September 8, 1996. Featured will be her “Tree Souls”, sculptures that depict figures rising from a long tangle of root-like forms. For this installation, she will create boulder-shaped sculptures with human forms emerging, called “Stone Souls”.

    As a child, Saar was fascinated by the mythology of various cultures and believed that plants, trees and other elements in nature possessed a “spirit”. Her work reflects this sensibility by employing forms found in nature, as well as using organic materials. Saar is still inspired by other traditions and borrows forms and iconography from various non-Western sources including African-American folklore, Santeria traditions, and native African art. The installation at The Brooklyn Museum [is] also inspired by African-Caribbean folklore.

    Born from a mixed racial background, Alison Saar considers herself to be African-American. The daughter of assemblage artist Betye Saar and art conservator Richard Saar, Alison Saar was encouraged to pursue an artistic career. Her parents introduced her to various art works and traditions ranging from Simon Rodia’s Watts Tower to African sculpture, Native American artifacts, Chinese frescoes, and Egyptian mummies. While at college, Alison Saar continued to study a wide range of art including African, Haitian, African-Cuban art, and African-American folk art. The symbols, icons, and materials used by Saar in her work reflect her diverse knowledge and cultural understanding.

    Alison Saar, a former Brooklyn resident, has had her work shown in prominent galleries and museums throughout the country. Her project will link the Museum’s contemporary art collection with its various collections of non-Western art and with the Brooklyn community.

    The Alison Saar installation in the Grand Lobby at The Brooklyn Museum was made possible by a grant from the Peter Norton Family Foundation.

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1995 - 2003. 01-06/1995, 008-9.
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  • September 1, 1995 Art in the Public Dimension: Alison Saar, the first lecture in a series of five sponsored by The Brooklyn Museum's Community Committee, will be presented at the Museum on Thursday, October 12, at noon. The lecture was organized in conjunction with The Woods Within, Saar's installation in the Museum's Grand Lobby, on view from October 13, 1995 through September 8, 1996. She will discuss her experience as an African-American artist, as well as the nature of her installation at the Museum.

    Saar uses imagery from many sources in her work, including African art, folk art, African-American history, and the rituals of Santeria. The Woods Within comprises four sculptures, two Tree Souls completed in 1994 and two Stone Souls created especially for this installation. Saar has identified the figure emerging from each sculpture as a forest spirit, honoring African and Caribbean religious traditions and expressing humankind's relationship with the landscape.

    Art in the Public Dimension
    , The Brooklyn museum's 1995-96 lecture series, will present artists Kiki Smith, Vincent Desiderio, Jenny Holzer, and Komar and Melamid in the coming months. The lectures are free with Museum admission. Lunch or brunch with the artist following the lecture is $20, available by reservation only. To reserve a meal, call (718) 789-2493.

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1995 - 2003. 07-12/1995, 146.
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