Armory Center Opens Major Alison Saar Exhibit

Exhibit features dozens of acclaimed artist’s works across two separate venues
Published on Jul 17, 2021

Featured: Armory Executive Director Leslie A. Ito, Alison Saar, and Armory Chief Curator Irene Georgia Tsatsos. (Photo courtesy Jon LaPointe, Armory Center for the Arts)

In a dual exhibition with the Benton Museum of Art at Pomona College, Pasadena’s Armory Center for the Arts has opened the largest museum survey to date of the work of artist Alison Saar.

Alison Saar: Of Aether and Earthe includes 29 of the artist’s multi-media and mixed installation works in one exhibition installed across the two venues.

This bifurcated exhibition spans the broad spectrum of Saar’s career, from her sculptures of the early 1980s to a new installation, Hygiea, unveiled at the Armory and the large-scale, site-specific commission Imbue, which was installed at the Benton in the summer of 2020.

“We divided the show into two parts,” said Saar,  following a private preview Friday. “The Benton show is more water and earth, and this one is more in the ether, more spiritual. We have a few floating figures, so this show is more ethereal.”

Betye Saar and Alison Saar. Alison’s mother Betye grew up In Pasadena and is a legendary artist still making art at 94. (Photo courtesy Jon LaPointe, Armory Center for the Arts)

Many of the Armory pieces reflect women under or resisting oppression, said Saar. Contemporary and historical racism, and bigotry, but there are also pieces that are just about personal duress and feelings, said Saar.

“There are a few pieces that are about motherhood, and that spans all colors, of course. Saar noted that several works speak to the burden of motherhood for people of color, as well.

Having immersed herself in art all of her life, under the wing of her equally lauded artist mother, collagist and assemblage artist Betye Saar, and  her father, Richard Saar, a painter and art conservator, Saar says of her intimate, and sometimes dark, work, “I think people should trust their initial feelings when they see these things.”

“I don’t feel there is a wrong or right answer. I have specific intentions when I make these pieces, and even my ideas about the pieces change over time, I think.”

“As I get older,” she said,  “the meaning of those pieces might change for me. There isn’t one hard and fast answer for these things. People bring a certain amount of information to the work, and someone may experience the work very differently from someone else.”

 Alison Saar: Of Aether and Earthe runs through Sunday, Dec 12, 2021. Galleries open by appointment Fridays 4 to 8 p.m. and weekends 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Armory Center for the Arts, 145 North Raymond Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91103.

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