Alison Saar & Evie Shockley
Alison Saar creates artworks that frequently transform found objects to reflect themes of cultural and social identity, history, and religion.
Saar credits her mother, acclaimed collagist and assemblage artist Betye Saar, with exposing her to metaphysical and spiritual traditions. Assisting her father, Richard Saar, a painter and art conservator, in his restoration shop inspired her learning and curiosity about other cultures.
Saar studied studio art and art history at Scripps College in Claremont, California, receiving a BA in art history in 1978. In 1981 she earned her MFA from the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles. In 1983, Saar became an artist-in-residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem, incorporating found objects from the city environment. Saar completed another residency in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1985, which augmented her urban style with Southwest Native American and Mexican influences.
Saar’s style encompasses a multitude of personal, artistic, and cultural references that reflect the plurality of her own experiences. Her sculptures, installations, and prints incorporate found objects including rough-hewn wood, old tin ceiling panels, nails, shards of pottery, glass, and urban detritus. The resulting figures and objects become powerful totems exploring issues of gender, race, heritage, and history. Saar’s art is included in museums and private collections across the U.S.
Evie Shockley has published multiple books of poetry, including "the new black" (Wesleyan, 2011), winner of the Black Caucus of ALA’s Literary Award for Poetry, and "a half-red sea" (Carolina Wren Press, 2006), in addition to two chapbooks. Her newest title "semiautomatic," was published in September 2017 from Wesleyan. She also has a book of criticism, "Renegade Poetics: Black Aesthetics and Formal Innovation in African American Poetry" (Iowa, 2011). Shockley has had essays and reviews published in such journals as Callaloo, African American Review, and Indiana Review. Her poetry has appeared in MELUS, Harvard Review, Columbia Poetry Review, and in the anthology "Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry," among many other publications. Shockley has sat on a number of panels and given many presentations at a variety of conferences including MLA, the American Studies Association Conference, and the American Literature Association. She has read at the Vermont Studio Center, Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Barnard College, University of New Mexico, and at a number of other universities and literary venues. Shockley received the 2012 Theodore H. Holmes ’51 and Bernice Holmes National Poetry Prize, awarded to "a single poet of special merit" by the faculty of Princeton University’s creative writing program. Shockley was The 2018 Pulitzer Prize Finalist in Poetry .
Shockley received her BA in English from Northwestern University, followed by a JD from University of Michigan Law School, before earning her MA and PhD from Duke University. She is assistant professor in the English department at Rutgers University.
semiautomatic (Wesleyan University Press, 2017)
the new black (Wesleyan University Press, 2011)
31 words * prose poems (Belladonna* Books, 2007)
a half-red sea (Carolina Wren Press, 2006)
For Shockley’s recent collection of poems, “semiautomatic,” Saar contributed a series of drawings for the chapter “the topsy suite” with writings based on the character of Topsy from “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” That collaborative energy led to this print, which features imagery by Saar, and words by Shockley.
Evie’s poem on the broadside from semiautomatic (Wesleyan University Press, 2017):
stop : meet with me here, weapons at rest,
on this stage of reciprocal dreaming : you
imagine you hear my desperate breathing :
and i, your eardrum, a small heart, beating
Alison and Evie Broadside, 2018
3 pass linoleum and letterpress on French Paper
16 x 12 in. (40.6 x 30.5 cm)
Edition of 60 / Signed and numbered