Studio Sunday: Betye Saar

A photo of Betye Saar in her art studio in the 1970's


This week’s Studio Sunday feature, Betye Saar, is a California-based assemblage artist and printmaker whose work has long been focused on challenging racial stereotypes. Saar was trained in design and began her career producing enamel jewelry and greeting cards. After taking a class in printmaking, Saar was convinced to turn her focus to a full-time art career.


In the photo above, Saar’s studio is packed with various objects of interest, from the paintings on the walls to interesting bits of furniture. These furniture pieces look less like the stark plywood or metal tables we commonly see in studio spaces today, and more like home furniture, perhaps inherited through family members over generations.


The tight space, packed with artwork, furniture, and other knick-knacks, reminds me of other older home studio spaces like those of Lygia Clark or Alice Neel. Home studio spaces like these seem to suggest a genuine passion for the work, with the artist truly in their element, combining home life with artwork.


Given that Saar is mainly known for her assemblages, I wonder how much of what is seen in this photo frame is decoration, and how much is work-in-progress, or future art supplies. It seems that Saar’s studio would be a wonderful place to let one’s creative instincts run wild and explore the aesthetics of everyday objects.


Saar is aged 91 as of this writing and still lives and works in California. She has two children who are both artists – Lezley and Alison Saar, known for mixed-media and sculptural assemblage, respectively.

[image source]

Written by: Dallas Jeffs
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