Jennifer McCabe, “Review: Betye Saar: Still Tickin’,” Panorama: Journal of Association of Historians of American Art, Summer 2016 (2.1).
Jennifer McCabe is a PhD student at Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts at Arizona State University. Her article appears in the electronic publication of Panorama: Journal of the Association of Historians of American Art. McCabe opens her article by describing the city of Scottsdale and Betye Saar’s recently featured exhibition in Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. The exhibition takes residence in three of the four galleries available in the museum. They are divided into three areas: Red Time Room, Sanctified Visions, and Bridge of Memory. Saar’s work is a conglomeration of found objects, printmaking, and collaging, just to name a few. McCabe writes that Saar is an artist whose work often relates to current social and cultural issues. Saar’s recent piece, The Weight of Persistent Racism (Patented), 2014, which is showcased in the Red Time Room, shows two antique scales that are topped with a clock and a black crow. These items “refer to both the Jim Crow segregation laws and the continued impact of racism on the black community.” Along with the Jim Crow references, Saar uses many other objects that represent things such as the clocks to communicate the frailty of time. For example, in her piece Alpha and Omega, 2013, a large blue boat hangs from the ceiling. Under the boat is a table with various melted candles and two chairs with clocks in their seats. A clock sits opposite of the entrance to the room, commenting on the passing of time.
McCabes thorough description of multiple pieces within the exhibit puts me right in the middle of the museum; witnessing and experiencing all of the art that communicates so much weight and heaviness that comes from the social and cultural problems capturing our world today. She is mostly positive throughout her critique of Saar’s work; praising Saar for her ability to take objects and communicate so much through them. “Saar has clearly influenced and inspired viewers who know that her work reveals many uncomfortable truths about our society and culture.”