A retrospective of the vital and articulate prints of prominent American artist Alison Saar (born 1956) underscores her persistent dialogue with some of the most urgent issues of our time, including race, gender and spirituality. Mirror, Mirror: The Prints of Alison Saar, from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation features nearly 40 works from the artist’s robust body of printmaking over the last 35 years, as well as five sculptures, drawn from a renowned private collection. The exhibition will be on view at the Chazen Museum of Art in Madison, Wisconsin, through Aug. 8, 2021. The Chazen recently acquired nine prints by Saar, which are represented in the Chazen collection. In all, the Chazen holds 15 prints and one sculpture by the artist.
Mirror, Mirror: The Prints of Alison Saar, from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation was organized by the Weatherspoon Art Museum at the University of North Carolina Greensboro.
“Alison Saar’s decades-long explorations of the African American experience as filtered through her personal symbolism connect to today’s essential conversations around racial reckoning and cultural belonging,” Amy Gilman, director of the Chazen, said. “The museum believes this visionary work is crucial viewing for all of our diverse communities and audiences.”
Alison Saar, who is based in Los Angeles, where she was born and raised, is known for her incisive sculptures, multimedia installations and printmaking that reflect a broad range of creative influences, including ancient Greek and African forms and American folk art. In all of Saar’s wide-ranging work the artist has unflinchingly tackled complex personal and political subject matter with an eye towards accessibility and meaningful exchange.
Mirror, Mirror spotlights Alison Saar’s innovation and versatility in both printmaking and sculpture, demonstrating the artist’s use of a variety of techniques and materials – lithography, etching, woodblock prints, found objects and installation work. Her inventive styles and strategies in one medium often merge unconventionally and tangibly overlap with the other, when for example printing on layers of used fabrics such as vintage handkerchiefs and antique sugar sacks, or when carved woodblock prints parallel her approach to sculptural objects in wood.
The exhibition’s imagery focuses predominantly on solitary women in various poses reminiscent of historical African deities and ancient Greek statuary. In many of Saar’s works, she charts the tragic history of slavery in America, but her figures telegraph defiance and strength. Other recurring motifs are jazz, gender roles and desire. Among the exhibition’s highlights are the prints Sweeping Beauty (1997), Washtub Blues (2000), Cotton Eater (2014) and Black Bottom Stomp (2017) and the sculptures Mirror, Mirror (Mulata Seeking Inner Negress) (2006) and White Guise (2018).
About Jordan D. Schnitzer and his Family Foundation
At age 14, Jordan D. Schnitzer bought his first work of art from his mother’s Portland, Oregon, contemporary art gallery, beginning a lifelong avocation as collector. He began collecting contemporary prints and multiples in earnest in 1988. Today, the collection exceeds 19,000 works and includes many of today’s most important contemporary artists. It has grown to be the country’s largest private print collection.
He and his Family Foundation generously lend work from the collections to qualified institutions, with over 110 exhibitions to date and works exhibited at over 150 museums. For more information about the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation, please visit jordanschnitzer.org.
About the Chazen Museum of Art
The Chazen Museum of Art makes its home between two lakes on the beautiful campus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Within walking distance of the state capitol, it sits squarely in the heart of a vibrant college town.The Chazen’s expansive two-building site holds the second-largest collection of art in Wisconsin, and at 166,000 square feet, is the largest collecting museum in the Big 10.
The collection of approximately 23,000 works of art covers diverse historical periods, cultures and geographic locations, from ancient Greece, Western Europe and the Soviet Empire to Moghul India, 18th-century Japan and modern Africa.
For more information: chazen.wisc.edu.