Betye Saar: Migrations/Transformations





From tribes to chains; from community to cargo; from farms to ships to plantations; from South to North; from slavery to freedom - the migration routes of black people from Africa to America form the subject of Betye Saar's series, Migrations/Transformations, exhibited by Michael Rosenfeld Gallery in 2006. In seventeen mixed media collages and assemblages, Saar narrates seventeen distinctive journeys. By layering carefully selected clues - a gold button, an African mask, a slave ship diagram, a weathered photograph, a pressed leaf, a tattered American flag - she constructs fictional biographies of nameless characters that represent the historical passages of millions. Haunted by memories of Africa or the trauma of the Middle Passage, Saar's journeys remind us that history is not simply the recording of past events - it is a living, breathing entity, filling the space of our present and shaping contemporary identities. Born in Los Angeles in 1926, Saar is known for voicing her political, racial, religious, and gender concerns in an effort to reach across the barriers of art and life, to bridge cultural diversities, and forge new understandings. This fully illustrated color catalogue with an artist statement and essays by Whitfield Lovell, Tracye Saar-Cavanaugh, Lowery Stokes Sims, and Sean Ulmer accompanied the exhibition

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