Distinguished Alumna Alison Saar ‘78

At reunion convocation, renowned sculptor Alison Saar ’78 received the 2003 Distinguished Alumna Award. Saar, whose work is displayed in prominent galleries and exhibition spaces nationally, is known for her exceptional capacity to create provocative sculptural tapestries that weave together American, African, and African-American artistic traditions. Her sculptures of black women, which dominate her current work, radiate with the ritual power of the medium and the intense energy of black womanhood.

Alison grew up in the Hollywood Hills, studied non-Western art and culture at Scripps, and then earned her Master of Fine Arts at Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles. She was raised with art: her mother, Betye Saar, is a well-known assemblage
artist, and her father, Richard Saar, is a painter and art conservator.

Alison’s art reflects the multiple influences of her background and training. Her figures have evolved from those of small animals to those of African- American males to classic nude figures to depictions of the female body as a spirit vessel. Her universal figures also reflect a synthesis of her own African American, European, and Native American heritage.
Alison was once asked why she had begun to sculpt mostly female figures?

She replied, “The pieces have been very autobiographical and very much about bodies.They are dealing with my experiences
as a mother and a woman whose body is starting to age and change.”