Black History Month Spotlight: Legendary Assemblage Artist Betye Saar

Every weekday this month, we’re profiling fascinating figures from L.A.’s Black history

For a running list of all our 2021 Black History Month profiles, click here.

Born in 1926, Betye Saar was raised in a middle-class, multi-racial family in Watts. A legendary assemblage artist, her work has explored everything from spirituality, the feminist and Black power movements, and her own family’s complicated legacy. In one poem she writes:

My roots are tangled. A blend of black, white and red, I am labeled Creole, mulatto, mixed, colored in every sense. Enslaved by the ‘one-drop-rule,’ But liberated by the truth, That all blood is red.

Now in her 90s, Saar continues to work in her studio in Laurel Canyon, where she has lived since the 1960s. Recently celebrated with major shows at MOMA and LACMA, Saar is pleased with her overdue recognition. “It’s about time!” she told the New York Times in 2019. “I’ve had to wait till I’m practically 100.”

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