The Prints of Alison Saar
August 29–December 6, 2020
Williamson Gallery, Scripps College
Perhaps you can go home again, after all: Scripps College celebrates the return of alumna Alison Saar ’78, renowned sculptor and printmaker, this fall in Mirror, Mirror: The Prints of Alison Saar from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation. As the name of the exhibition reveals, Jordan D. Schnitzer and his Family Foundation generously provided works from Schnitzer’s immense private collection, one frequently featured in museum exhibitions. Mirror, Mirror presents more than 30 prints chosen from Saar’s enormous portfolio created over the past 35 years. The works will be on view from Aug. 29 through December 6, 2020. Exhibition catalogs are available for purchase here. Owing to the coronavirus pandemic, in the fall teaching at Scripps is being done remotely and the Gallery is closed until current restrictions are lifted. To access online programming, including a virtual tour of the exhibition and conversations with the artist, please visit our website and sign up for emails by clicking the link at the bottom of our home page. After restrictions are lifted, during exhibitions, the Williamson is open from Wednesday through Sunday, noon to 5 p.m., and admission is free.
Saar challenges boundaries in her work. At times with bitter humor, and at others, with tenderness, but always with intelligence does she unflinchingly confronts issues of race and gender. She attributes some of her work’s spirit to her time at Scripps, where she studied art history with renowned artist and professor, Samella Lewis, longtime faculty member and a powerful leader in the promotion of African American art. Recalling Lewis’ mentorship, Saar credits her teacher with influencing her own development as an artist. To honor Lewis, Saar co-founded and contributed works of art to the Samella Lewis Collection of Contemporary Art at Scripps.
She doesn’t confine her prints to paper: working with aged cotton handkerchiefs and sacks that once held sugar, she cuts, collages, and sews, pushing the medium to communicate her vision. Perhaps some of the early inspiration for that mode came about during those years at Scripps, when she studied printmaking with Paul Darrow—her formal introduction to the medium. Taking old tin cans, flattening them, and using them for monotypes, she then cut the prints up and sewed them back together into cans, finally collapsing them once more. “It was about pushing it from being something flat to something sculptural,” Saar recounted in the exhibition catalog. “I think,” she added, “that idea persists in my works…pushing those boundaries, combat[ting] the medium’s inherent flatness.”
“It is an honor to present Alison’s art at Scripps, where she has a special place as an alumna and artist,” said gallery director Dr. Mary MacNaughton. “The College’s collection holds a number of her works, such as her bronze statue, Swing Low: Harriet Tubman Memorial, 2007, which greets visitors approaching the Williamson Gallery. Now, in Mirror, Mirror,visitors can see her impressive prints and the wide sweep of her talent, encompassing monoprints, lithographs, serigraphs, and woodcuts.”
During exhibitions, the Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery is open Wed.–Sun., noon to 5 pm. For more information, please call (909) 670-3397.
Enjoy interviews and more artworks by Alison Saar:
Jori Finkel interviews Alison for the New York Times:
Susan Stamberg interviews Alison on NPR:
Alison Saar Exhibitions Beyond the Williamson:
Benton Museum of Art at Pomona College and the
Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena
Concurrent to Mirror, Mirror, the Benton Museum of Art at Pomona College, (formerly Pomona College Museum of Art) in Claremont is partnering with the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena to present “Alison Saar: Of Aether and Earthe,” an exhibition of artist Alison Saar’s work connected to myths and archetypes, invisible bodies and hidden histories, and paradigms of grounding and transformation.
About the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation
At age 14, Jordan D. Schnitzer bought his first work of art from his mother’s Portland, Oregon contemporary art gallery, spurring his lifelong avocation as a collector. He began collecting contemporary prints and multiples in earnest in 1988. Today, the collection exceeds 13,000 works and includes many of today’s most important contemporary artists. It has grown to be one of the country’s largest private print collections, which he generally lends from to qualified institutions. The Foundation has organized over 110 exhibitions and has had art exhibited at over 150 museums. Mr. Schnitzer is also president of Harsch Investment Properties, a privately owned real estate investment company based in Portland, Oregon, which owns and manages office, multi-tenant industrial, multi-family, and retail properties in six western states. For more information about the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation, please visit jordanschnitzer.org.
Image: Alison Saar, Snake Man, 1994, lithograph and woodcut, 28 x 37 in., Purchase, Scripps Collectors’ Circle, Scripps College, Claremont, CA