Betye Saar

Aunt Jemima

The Liberation of Aunt Jemima by Betye Saar Mixed Media Assemblage

1972 11.6″ x 7.9″ x 2.5″

          Betye Saar is a native of Los Angeles, California. She attended the University of Los Angeles for design, then later received her masters in printmaking at Pasadena City College. Mrs. Saar specializes in assemblage focusing on american stereotypes and racism. She uses found objects such as boxes, advertisements and other memorabilia from her youth to demonstrate her mixed heritage.She is part of the women artists revolution and challenges the role of male dominance in the art world.

Betye Saar states, “There has been an apparent thread in my art that weaves from early prints of the 1960’s through later collages and assemblages and ties into the current installations. That thread is a curiosity about the mystical. I am intrigued with combining the remnant of memories, fragments of relics and ordinary objects, with the components of technology. It’s a way of delving into the past and reaching into the future simultaneously. The art itself becomes the bridge.”

Midnight Madonna

Midnight Madonna’s by Betye Saar, Mixed Media- assemblage 1996 14″ x 11″ x 1 l/2

           Midnight Madonna is part of Betye Saar’s Extending the Frozen Moment series. She finds inspiration for these works from objects she finds at swap meet, garage sales, thrift stores, and antique shops. With this series she wishes to represent the “good times”. Times of strength, dignity, success and beauty.

Sambo's Banjo

Sambo’s Banjo by Betye Saar 1971-197 wood, cloth, paint, mirror, plastic objects, transparency 41″ x 14.5″ x 4.5″

          In this image we have a Sambo figurine on the cover of the banjo case, a wooden toy Sambo figure inside along with plastic rifle, mirror, transparency of male banjo player and metal skeleton figure with colored photocopy of lynched man. Also included is a large slice of watermelon made of wood with seeds attached to it.

This image portray’s racial stereotypes. Sambo’s character is know as one who lives to perform, but Betye Saar changes the characters viewing by asking did Sambo perform to live? Just as Sambo would sing and dance for his white owners, whites  all over the south would also use blacks as entertainment for lynchings. This was a way to use blacks as cautionary emblems for others.


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