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Alison Saar
Otis College of Art and Design, Ben Maltz Gallery, Los Angeles, California
Recommendation by Betty Ann Brown


Alison Saar, ''Rouse,'' 2012, wood, bronze, Fiberglas, antler sheds, 90 x 76 x 73''. Photo: Chris Warner

 

Continuing through November 17, 2012

 

Alison Saar deploys unexpected combinations of objects and images to address issues of race, gender, and spirit. Her recent residency at Pilchuck Glass School in Seattle gave her the opportunity to incorporate blown and cast glass objects into a series of mixed-media sculptures that address culturally constructed concepts of the body, ethnicity, and the human/nature divide. One piece is a clear glass self-portrait head attached to the white wall by a metal ring that reads as a neck constraint, echoing the manacles of slavery. Viewers are instructed to pump black ink into the hollow head and watch it change from apparently white to black, watch as it becomes a little bit black, half black, all black. The pumping is slow and a bit tedious, so contemplation is enforced, and during that time our social assumptions about race and identity are called into question. 

 

Another piece combines glass boxing gloves, filled with blood-red ink and suspended above a janitor’s pail. The ink spills down the wall like a bitter wound. Equally compelling is the triad of heart sculptures, each with long black arteries winding down to the ground like fractured spider legs. Saar hangs figures upside down, suspends them over clustered antlers, anchors them with roots of broken bottles. There is a melancholic poetry all through this work. Saar is all about disturbing beauty and urgent questing. Best of all, it is installed so that each piece has room to breathe and grow so that we have the psychic space to digest these dizzyingly intense offerings.

 

Published courtesy of ArtSceneCal ©2012

Otis College of Art and Design, Ben Maltz Gallery

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