Betye Saar’s artistic inspiration began in the 1930’s when she visited her grandmother in Watts to watch Simon Rodia combine debris in the construction of the Watts Towers monument. Since then, in pursuit of communicating her uninhibited ideas, Saar has moved through several mediums — from printmaking to collage, from assemblage to sculpture and finally to installation work. She has incorporated sound, literature and theater into her art while searching within herself. Of mixed ancestry, Betye Saar has explored her African-American, Irish and Native American ethnicity in her art, informing the work with experiences, imagery and found objects. In 1968, Saar began constructing the fragments collected throughout her travels into a whole, weaving the threads of her cultural origins into a narrative form of assemblages. Themes of life, death and in between reoccur in the works- Saar sees an awareness of death as central to our existence, a reminder of life, matter and presence, waking and dreaming. Saar continued to transform and place discarded objects into a new context, changes the meaning, shifting the objects’ power and personalizing what once was ordinary. Her constructions grew to the installation work of the late 1970s in which Saar delivered social and political messages through a haunting visual poetry.
Find out more at the artist’s website.