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Institute of Contemporary Art Miami

Betye Saar

Installation view:  "Betye Saar: Serious Moonlight" at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, Oct 28, 2021 – Apr 17, 2022. Photo: Zachary Balber.
Installation view: "Betye Saar: Serious Moonlight" at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, Oct 28, 2021 – Apr 17, 2022. Photo: Zachary Balber.

In this course, students will discuss the work of assemblage artist Betye Saar who reframes image-making outside of male-dominated Western painting traditions while honoring the creative labor of women standing up against social and political ills and environmental destruction. Saar’s installations expand on her celebrated repertoire and o er broadened insight into ritual, spirituality, and cosmologies in relation to the African American experience and the African diaspora. During the initial discussion, proposed questions will draw upon students’ critical thinking skills to make connections between Betye Saar’s artistic process, use of materials, and the narratives in her work.

About Betye Saar

Rooted in the artist’s critical focus on Black identity and intersectional feminism as well as the racialized and gendered connotations of found objects, Saar’s installations expand on her celebrated repertoire and o er broadened insight into ritual, spirituality, and cosmologies in relation to the African American
experience and the African diaspora.

Boldly addressing questions of race and gender in her art and activism, Betye Saar (b. 1926, Los Angeles) has been a pioneer of readymade art on the West Coast and Black feminist art in the United States since the 1960s. Her revolutionary work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States and around the world, including, most recently, the retrospective “Betye Saar: Still Tickin’” at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Arizona, and Het Domein, Sittard, The Netherlands; the group show “We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85” at the Brooklyn Museum, New York; and the monumental traveling group show “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power” at the Tate Modern, London; Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas; Brooklyn Museum; The Broad, Los Angeles; and the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, Fine Arts, Museums of San Francisco.

“I am intrigued with combining the remnant of memories, fragments of relics and ordinary objects, with the components of technology. It’s a way of delving into the past and reaching into the future simultaneously.”

“I make my art in silence,” Betye Saar has said. “The materials conjure ideas. The ideas conjure images. The images conjure art. The art conjures feelings. The feelings are the goal.”

Installation view: Betye Saar, Oasis, 1984, at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, California. Courtesy of the artist and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles.
Installation view: "Betye Saar: Serious Moonlight" at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, Oct 28, 2021 – Apr 17, 2022. Photo: Zachary Balber.
Installation view: "Betye Saar: Serious Moonlight" at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, Oct 28, 2021 – Apr 17, 2022. Photo: Zachary Balber.
Installation view: "Betye Saar: Serious Moonlight" at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, Oct 28, 2021 – Apr 17, 2022. Photo: Zachary Balber.
Installation view: "Betye Saar: Serious Moonlight" at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, Oct 28, 2021 – Apr 17, 2022. Photo: Zachary Balber.