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ALISON SAAR EXHIBITION EXPLORING FLOOD’S IMPACT ON AFRICAN AMERICANS OPENS AT LAFAYETTE COLLEGE
EASTON, PA, August 11, 2016 — Alison Saar weaves narratives relating to the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 into the mixed-media sculpture and paintings featured in “Breach” presented by Lafayette College Art Galleries Sept. 17–Dec.17 at the Richard A. and Rissa W. Grossman Gallery, Williams Visual Arts Building, 243 North Third St., Easton, Pa. During Easton’s Riverside Festival of the Arts, there will be an exhibition preview with the artist6:00 to 8:00 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 17 at the Grossman Gallery. There will be areception from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 18 for Saar and dancers who participate in the related, site-specific dance performance “Breach: Left Behind,” which takes place in the gallery at 2:00 p.m. on September 18 and again at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 1.
Saar will give an artist’s talk at 4:10 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 25, at the Williams Center for the Arts, 317 Hamilton St., Easton. She will host a listening party, 7:00 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 27, in the Grossman Gallery, featuring blues music inspired by the flood and a presentation of historic photographs and maps.
The exhibition and affiliated events are free and open to the public.
For a continually-updated schedule of related lectures, performances, films, and workshops, visit http://galleries.lafayette.edu/category/breach-program-schedule-rivers-floods-levees/
Saar, selected as the 2016-17 Richard A. and Rissa W. Grossman Artist in Residence, explores issues of gender, race, racism, and the African diaspora. She mines mythology, ritual, history, music, and her biracial heritage as sources for her work.
During a 2013 residency at the Joan Mitchell Center in New Orleans, Saar was dismayed to see how little had been done to rebuild African American communities devastated by Hurricane Katrina eight years earlier. Upon her return to Los Angeles, she began researching the histories of American floods and the effect on African Americans. The Great Mississippi River Flood of 1927, described as one of the worst natural river disasters in U.S. history, piqued her interest. Heavy rains resulted in the river breaching levees, creating a historic catastrophe that had a profound impact on the life of African Americans living in the Mississippi Delta. The flood exposed the conditions of poor African American sharecroppers and tenant farmers and their relationship with cotton plantation owners. The flood also resulted in social, cultural, federal policy, and political changes.
With water imagery woven throughout, “Breach” is the culmination of Saar’s creative research on American rivers and their historical relationship to the lives of African Americans. Through mixed media sculpture, paintings, and works on paper, she explores floods not only as natural phenomena; but also the complex interaction of social, cultural, and political factors associated with flooding and its aftermath.