| Betye Saar
House of Ancient Memory, 1989
wood, paint, plastic, mirrors, embroidered fabric, feathers, metal,
glass perfume bottles, painted and lacquered wood table
61 x 19 3/4 x 13-1/4 in.
Saar's assemblages are frequently based
on objects brought together to make a statement about spirituality.
Her ethnic heritage is African-American, Irish, Native American,
Creole, German and Scottish. She attempts to show the similarities
across cultures and refuses to participate in shows that are described
as "black" or "women's" art. She creates a puzzle with her work
and invites the viewer to decode the puzzle.
Saar uses bits and pieces from Mexican Christianity, Far Eastern
religion and African spirituality to make her art. She invents her
creative vocabulary from cultural artifacts.
Betye Saar's Iconography
[click on the image for a larger version]
Betty Saar gave us clues to the iconography
(meaning) of The House of Ancient Memory(1989) in both
written and visual text. She wrote:
"The House of Ancient Memoryis one of the series
of mixed-media freestanding assemblages.
I have always been interested in Asia and this sculpture was
inspired by the temples I saw in Taiwan, Malaysia, and Bali. It
is mostly wood and painted red for good luck and prosperity. My
work combines images and symbols of different
cultures and religions. My materials are collected on my travels
and from thrift shops and swap meets in the United States.
I attempt to create an object that suggests spirituality without
pertaining to a specific religion. My goal is to show cultural
differences and universal similarities."
--Betye Saar, 1995
three-dimensional collage created from a group of everyday objects,
many times pre-made and put together in a specific way.
translate an unknown idea, word, or image into an understandable
idea or image.
study of symbols and their meanings.
can be written (word), visual (art), or ambient (body language);
used to communicate.
Return to the TOP of the page ]