September 17, 2016

Alison Saar’s Breach inspires Confluence of Events at Lafayette

Link to release at the Communications Division website here

Breach, an exhibition by Los Angeles based contemporary artist Alison Saar, runs through Dec. 17 in the Richard A. and Rissa W. Grossman Gallery of the Williams Visual Arts Building at Lafayette College, Easton, Pa. An opening reception for the artist will be held Sunday, Sept. 18.

Through paintings and mixed media sculpture Saar weaves narratives relative to the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, described as the worst recorded river disaster in U.S. history with profound impacts on African Americans and long-term social, cultural and political changes nationally.

The exhibition and related events are free and open to the public.

Read more about Breach.

Saar 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.

She was selected as the 2016-17 Richard A. and Rissa W. Grossman Artist in Residence at Lafayette. She will work at Lafayette’s Experimental Printmaking Institute (EPI) and lead workshops with students and members of the community to create sculpted heads of clay and found objects to incorporate into the exhibition.

Confluence,’ a wide-ranging series of interdisciplinary programs associated with rivers and inspired by Alison Saar’s Breach, will be held during the fall semester at Lafayette.

  • Exhibition: Florence Under Water: Commemorating the 50TH Anniversary of the Great Flood, through Jan. 15, Skillman Library
  • The six-word story project, Ernest Hemingway is credited with creating the six-word story, combining poetry and drama into a short form difficult to achieve. A suggested, but not required, story topic is water in its many forms. A collaborative project of the Lafayette Art Galleries and the department of English.
  • Reading by poet and essayist Evie Shockley, author of “mami wata (or how to know a goddess when you see one)” for the collaborative artist’s book with Alison Saar, 4:30 p.m., Thurs., Sept. 15., Kirby 104.
  • Site-specific dance performance, Breach: Left Behind, 2 p.m., Sun., 18 by choreographer Jessica Warchal-King in collaboration with Alison Saar, members of the Easton and Lafayette communities.  Williams Visual Arts Building (WVAB).
  • Opening reception for Breach, 3 to 5 p.m., Sun., Sept. 18 for Alison Saar and the dancers in Breach: Left Behind, Grossman Gallery in WVAB following the dance performance.
  • Talk by historian and author DC Jackson, Hugel Professor of History, 4:10 p.m., Wed., Sept. 21 on the St. Francis Dam disaster of 1928, the subject of his recently published book Heavy Ground, co-authored with Norris Hundley Jr.  Gendebien Room, Skillman Library. Book signing follows.
  • Film screening, The Great Flood, 7 p.m., Thurs., Sept. 22, introduced by Prof. Katherine Groo, FAMS. Bill Morrison’s 2014 film about the 1927 flood. Landis Cinema, Buck Hall.
  • Film screening, Rivers and Tides, 7 p.m., Sun., Sept. 25, introduced by Prof. Benjamin Cohen, engineering studies. Documentary (2011) about land artist Andy Goldsworthy. Landis Cinema, Buck Hall.
  • Site-specific dance performance of Breach: Left Behind, 11 a.m., Sat., Oct. 1 by choreographer Jessica Warchal-King in collaboration with Alison Saar. In conjunction with the Lafayette Arts Open House at Williams Arts Campus.
  • Film screening of Florence: Days of Destruction (1966), 7 p.m., Thurs., Oct. 13, a documentary film by Franco Zeffirelli, narrated by Richard Burton, about the Arno River flood, introduction by Diane Ahl, Rothkopf Professor of Art History. Landis Cinema, Buck Hall. Sponsored by Friends of Skillman Library.
  • Lecture by John M. Barry, author of Historian John M. Barry, author of Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How it Changed America, 7:30 p.m., Mon., Oct. 17, Kirby 104
  • Lecture by Lehigh professor Susan Kart, “Wade in the Water: Beyoncé, Mami Wata & Black Feminist Power,” 4:10 p.m., Tues., Oct. 18. Gendebien Room, Skillman Library.
  • Harmonious Visions: Reflections on Nature Through the Fabric of Sight and Sound, Molly Morkoski, piano / Liuh-Wen Ting, viola / Barry Crawford, flute; composer Frances White, images by Jim Toia, Sat., Oct. 22, 8 p.m., Williams Center main stage.
  • Artist’s talk by Alison Saar, 4:10 p.m., Tues., Oct. 25.  Williams Center 108, 317 Hamilton St
  • Lecture by Wendy Wilson-Fall, “River Slaves and Ocean Mariners,” 12 p.m., Wed, Oct. 26, Williams Center 108.
  • Talk by Prof. Dru Germanoski, Van Artsdalen Professor of Geology, “Persistent Flood Hazards in the Delaware and Mississippi Rivers,” 12:20 p.m. Thurs., Oct. 27. Van Wickle Hall, room 108. NOTE: Schedule change from Tues. Oct 25
  • Listening party, hosted by artist Alison Saar, 7 p.m., Thurs., Oct. 27, featuring examples of blues music inspired by the flood and music from the era. The music will be accompanied by historic photographs, maps, and other sources of inspiration for the artwork. Landis Cinema, Buck Hall.
  • Talk, “Understanding the ‘100-year’ Flood on our Changing Planet,” by Prof. David Brandes, co-chair in the programs of environmental science and studies, 12:15 p.m., Thurs., Nov. 10. Hugel Room 103
  • Lecture, “The Great Arno Flood, Florence’s ‘Bad Boy’ of 1966,” an eyewitness account by David G. Wilkins and Ann Thomas Wilkins, 4:10 p.m., Mon., Nov. 14. Gendebien Room, Skillman Library.

For more information, contact Michiko Okaya, director of art galleries, artgallery@lafayette.edu, visit Lafayette’s galleries or find us on Facebook.

Regular gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, Saturdays 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. and by appointment, (610) 330-5361.

For events and directions, visit the Lafayette calendar, www.calendar.lafayette.edu and campus map.

Alison Saar’s residency is made possible, in part, by an arts infusion grant made possible by generous support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Richard A. and Rissa W. Grossman Visiting Artist Series (department of art), the Lafayette Art Galleries, campus departments and programs, and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

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Locations and Hours

Williams Center Gallery
Morris R. Williams Center for the Arts
317 Hamilton Street (main campus)
(610) 330-5361, or email
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat. & Sun. 12-5 p.m.
Performance nights 7:30-9:30 p.m.

Richard A. and Rissa W. Grossman Gallery
Williams Visual Arts Building

243 North Third Street
(610) 330-5361, or email
Hours: Tues.-Fri. 11-5 p.m. and by appointment, Sat. 12-5 p.m.

Lass Gallery and Simon Room
David Bishop Skillman Library

(610) 330-5410, or email
Hours: Library hours

All exhibitions and related lectures are free and open to the public.