The artwork of Alison Saar is deeply spiritual and personal. Saar is an Los Angelian artist who works with iconography based in her own heritage, European and African-American, as well as learned icons related to Buddhism or urban street culture, for example. While the multitude of influences are readily apparent in her works, there are issues with the way Saar’s work is received and considered. Because Saar is African American and a female, identities such as “black” or “feminine” often are brought to the forefront over her actual art work. Over all, readings of Saar’s work refuse to recognize her desires to transcend fixed identities. Instead of focusing on these identities, as critics have, this project will focus on how the artist treats her own identity viewing Saar’s work as self-portraits.
In order to reform the reception of Alison Saar’s work, this study will focus on hybridity as defined within postcolonial theories. Post-colonial theory makes visible the complexity of identity in its multitude and fluidity. One can never occupy one identity and may even inhabit several that are oft considered opposites. In the reception of a work of art, I conclude, the viewer should be able to see how a multitude of innovations have brought any piece into being and how several identities can intersect at any moment.
Heather Pavlu, ’11
Overland Park, KS
Majors: Art and Art History, Women’s Studies
Sponsors: Christina Penn-Goetsch and Christa Robbins