Alison Saar, the Alchemist

Alison Saar, “Undertow” (2004), wood, wire, bottles, copper, 45 x 12 x 9 inches.

Collection of Lois and Richard Neiter.

Alison Saar is a respected sculptor whose work deals with materials and their meaning both within and across cultures. A second-generation African American woman artist, Saar follows in the footsteps of her mother Betye, while examining her own interests in the power and resonances between everyday objects and the history and lives that they hold within them. Writer, theorist and professor in the Department of Humanities at York University, Christina Sharpe, shares her thoughts on the power and promise in the work of Alison Saar in depicting Black life with and against the confines of racist representation. This feature in Hyperallergic is an excerpt from a longer work published in Alison Saar: Of Aether and Earthe -- published by the Benton Museum of Art at Pomona College to coincide with the exhibition of the same name.

“To sit with Saar’s work is to sit with its weight, force, and beauty — its presence. It is to sit in a space/time somewhere between or among idea, substance, experience, and the haptic that Saar describes as the need to experience everything through her hands. Saar works in tactility, in feeling and mass.” - Christina Sharpe