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Betye Saar Washes the Congenial Veneer Off a Sordid History

November 28, 2018
The washboard assemblages of Betye Saar are threatening reminders of how seemingly innocuous domestic tasks can become poignant symbols of suppression. Saar has collected these washing machine precursors for almost 60 years, incorporating them into bric-a-brac compositions of salvaged historical memories that recall a similar aesthetic championed by assemblage sculptor Joseph Cornell. An African-American artist with a concern for feminism and social justice, Saar reimagines the washboard as a site of insurrection — a call to arms for the disabused women of color whose hard housework buoyed the lives of their wealthy mistresses. Betye Saar: Keepin’ It Clean, organized by the Craft & Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles, is currently presented at the New-York Historical Society in tandem with the museum’s other exhibition examining the history of racial discrimination in America: Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow. Read more…
Creative: Tronvig Group