Family Legacies: The Art of Betye, Lezley, and Alison Saar

Jessica Dallow, Author, Barbara C. Matilsky, Author, Tracye Saar-Cavanaugh, Essay by . Univ. of Washington/Ackland Art Museum $24.95 (131p) ISBN 978-0-295-98564-0

This fine exhibition catalogue charts the flow of ideas and techniques between three artists related both by subject and blood. Betye Saar made her reputation in the 1960s and '70s with earthy mixed media pieces addressing the African-American experience: Shield of Quality (1974), with its gathering of lace, feathers, photographs and brooches, looks like a cross between a Joseph Cornell box and a grandmother's jewel case; De Ol' Folks at Home (1972) confronts the viewer with images of black stereotypes. Betye's daughters Lezley and Alison have amplified her work in accomplished careers of their own, sharing a penchant for certain motifs, including found textiles and images of black folks. Lezley works a self-portrait into the Frida Kahloesque The Tale of the Tragic Mulatto (1999); Alison's Clean Sweep (1997) is a three-foot-high carving of a naked woman whose feet merge into a broom's bristles. Thoughtful essays by Dallow and Matilsky, plus a personal reflection by Betye's youngest daughter Tracye Saar-Cavanaugh, a writer, complement the 50 color plates. As a succinct history of feminist and multicultural artistic strategies of the past 40-odd years, this book is educational. As a family document, it is also moving. (May)

Reviewed on: 03/27/2006
Release date: 01/01/2005
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