Betye Saar at 90, still creating, still magic:
“It’s this work ethic that has led to her prolific output. The exhibition in Scottsdale alone, a fraction of her output, features 135 works that survey the breadth of her techniques, which include print-making, collage and assemblage.
This includes a series of family portraits from the ’70s rendered as collages on vintage handkerchiefs and transformed into ghostly mementos. Deft arrangements of African effigies and elements of tarot become enchanted-looking assemblages that explore the mystical. And, of course, there are the political works, which take symbols of racism — statuettes of crows (for Jim Crow), the derogatory black memorabilia — and organize them into totems that channel humor and outrage.
Saar has even produced room-size environments. “Alpha & Omega,” on view in Scottsdale, features sculptures in chilly hues of blue, sitting below the hovering skeleton of a neon canoe — a dream-like scenario that conveys visions of otherworldly passages.
“Something I admire about Betye is that she deals with grief,” says Cochran. “We are a society that does not deal with grief. She gives gravitas to emotions that we just aren’t used to giving much attention to.””