Roberts Projects is thrilled to present ‘Something Blue,’ an exhibition of selected artworks by Betye Saar from 1983 to 2018. All of the works on view feature the color blue as a means to explore such concepts as magic, voodoo, and the occult. In her new assemblages dating from 2018, Saar revisits the holistic inclusion of various religious objects, totems, talismans, and charms in the materiality and temporality of her work. This focus on the mystic shares space with her familiar motifs including derogatory black collectibles, outlines of her hand, and personal and familial objects.
Exhibition is on view October 27 through December 15, 2018.
An avid printmaker starting in the 1960’s, much of the imagery in Saar’s work at the time was culled from palmistry charts, phrenology maps, and astrological diagrams. This informal study of alternative belief systems has influenced Saar’s work from its early beginning. Likened to ritual, Saar’s process combines magical themes derived from occult philosophy with a distinct West Coast sensibility to explore concepts of ritual and community, inherited traditions, and how objects can retain the memories and histories of their owners. Mysticism also figures prominently in her work in the guise of cosmological elements to explore the passage of time and the guiding hand of fate.
Voodoo is a culture, religion, and a way of life transmitted across generations that was transported to the Americas through slavery. Although slave owners throughout the American South worked to convert their slaves to Christianity, slaves found ways to continue their faiths, some by syncretizing their pantheon of gods with the saints. A product of mixed beliefs that include pagan traditions, ancient worship, and elements of European religions, Voodoo invokes the power of the Loas in African gods and deities; Saar includes the distinctive symbols in service of individual gods. Just as specific symbols, objects, chants and drum beats appeal to specific Loa, so too do colors. Saar incorporates shades of blue – representing purity, love, fidelity, and protection against the Evil Eye – in her potent new assemblages.
‘Holding Up 1/2 the Sky’ sculptures stand in contrast and conversation with Something Blue. Guest curator jill moniz eschewed assemblage artists, choosing instead to focus on abstraction so as to highlight the linguistic intersections with Saar’s practice. These considerations reify visual art as communal memory, and it is by holding up half the sky that humanity accesses the wisdom, nourishment and creativity we need to survive and thrive.
GALLERY HOURS: TUESDAY – SATURDAY, 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Holding Up 1/2 the Sky is organized by independent curator Jill Moniz, PhD.
A roundtable discussion organized in conjunction with the exhibition will feature artists Lisa Bartleson,
Chenhung Chen, Cole James, and Kyungmi Shin with curator Jill Moniz on November 17, 2018 at 1:00pm.