Alison Saar. Iron, Tin, and Wood

Video clip from Alison Saar at VMFA / Tangible Spirit Part 1 and 2, 1994. Video by Ruth Twiggs and Bruce Berryhill.

Alison Saar crafts her work from found industrial materials like iron, tin, and wood, having learned form a young age that art could be made out of anything. Her mother—the artist Betye Saar, who is known for assemblages of symbolic and folk objects that reference spirituality, personal history, and American racism—was deeply influenced by Simon Rodia’s now-iconic Watts Towers, which she watched him constructing while on weekly walks to the grocery store with her grandmother. For Alison Saar, visits to the Watts Towers were a family tradition, and the elaborate structures made of rebar, concrete, broken ceramics, and objects from the dump were formative to her practice of using recycled materials.1 For both mother and daughter, working with discarded objects is not just a matter of resourcefulness but a kind of recovering of the life and spirit that all things have.

  1. “Conversation with Betye Saar and Alison Saar,” Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power: Symposium, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, February 3, 2018 (posted March 12, 2018), video, 30:21 minutes, available at ↩︎