Photographed at the artist’s studio in Los Angeles, CA
Saar wakes early and as soon as her feet hit the floor, she’s already made plans for what she’ll create that day. At 91, Saar remains prolific, and though her groundbreaking work, she continues to confront inequality and identity as fearlessly as she did in the turbulent 1960’s. This series of images was taken as Saar prepared for a series of high profile exhibitions.
“I was really motivated by the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968. Before that I hadn’t felt any pressure to make political art. My field in education had been design, and I’d first become involved in printmaking, then started doing other things — portraits, landscapes. But the death of Martin Luther King really did it. The images on television were pretty brutal. You saw the police at war with protesters who just wanted to eat where they wanted or sit on a bus where they wanted. I was a mom with three kids at home; I couldn’t go on marches, but I used my art to release emotional feelings of anger and resentment…The thing in our country is that people haven’t accepted that racism affects all lives.” — Betye Saar