Alison Saar Returns Home with Scripps Presents and Gallery Exhibition

Alison Saar, Snake Man, 1994, edition AP 3/4, lithograph and woodcut, 28 x 37 in., Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation

Perhaps you can go home again, after all: Scripps 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.

Saar, who unflinchingly confronts race and gender with a mix of bitter humor and tenderness, 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.

On September 8, 2020, as part of Scripps Presents’ @Noon lunchtime series, Saar talks with Assistant Professor of Book Arts and Scripps College Press Director Tia Blassingame about her work in broadsides, book arts, letter press, and how an artist perseveres during troubling times.

Mirror, Mirror is a return to Scripps for Ms. Saar, and it felt really important to us to be a collaborator with the Williamson Gallery to highlight her work,” says Corrina Lesser, artistic director for Scripps Presents. “Both Ms. Saar’s and Professor Blassingame’s work in book arts and politically oriented art make them natural conversation partners!”

Saar 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’s 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.

Saar’s exhibition, on view at Scripps’ Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery, presents more than 30 prints chosen from her enormous portfolio created over the past 35 years. The works will be on view from August 29 through December 6, 2020. To access a virtual tour of the exhibition and conversations with the artist, visit the gallery’s website and sign up for emails by clicking the link at the bottom of the home page.

“It is an honor to present Alison’s art at Scripps, where she has a special place as an alumna and artist,” says gallery director Mary MacNaughton, who will deliver a critical introduction at the @Noon event. “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. We are grateful to Jordan D. Schnitzer and his Family Foundation for organizing and sponsoring this in-depth exhibition and producing a catalogue raisonné of Saar’s prints, which will inspire students.”