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Copacetic, published in 2019, is a suite of eight multi-block linocuts on handmade Hamada Kozo, backed with Sekishu Kozo, based on images created in 2018 at the 125th Street subway station in New York City. Saar expanded her original project, Hear the Lone Whistle Moan, and created Copacetic, a panoramic scene of imagined dancers, singers, musicians, and patrons enjoying Harlem’s heyday of the 1930s and 40s. Copacetic (the installation) comprises 24 laminated glass panels installed throughout the four glass shelters along the platforms. The upper windows are inspired by the Harlem-125th Street Station’s wrought iron work and designs from the African diaspora. The glass panels were adapted from Saar’s artwork, which as she explains, “gives a nod to the work of the many great African American artists of the Harlem Renaissance that have used the same medium in their practice, such as Elizabeth Catlett, Hale Woodruff and Aaron Douglas.” Saar’s palette of deep reds, blues and yellows introduces a vibrant graphic quality to the platform’s shelters, illuminated by the rising and setting sun over Harlem. Saar’s projects at the Harlem-125th Street Station encourage preservation of Harlem’s great legacy and celebrate its rich history.
Alison Saar was born in 1956 in Los Angeles, California. She grew up in an artistic environment with her mother, the artist Betye Saar, and her father, who was an illustrator and art conservationist. Through her sculptures, drawings, and prints, Saar explores the subjects of racism, sexism, ageism, and the challenges of being bi-racial in America. 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 an 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 into her practice. Saar completed another residency in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1985, which augmented her urban style with Southwest Native American and Mexican influences. Saar’s approach encompasses a multitude of personal, artistic, and cultural references that reflect the plurality of her own experiences and background. Her artworks incorporate found objects and materials such as rough-hewn wood, antique, tin ceiling panels, nails, shards of pottery, glass, and urban detritus. The resulting figures and objects become powerful totems that reflect on gender, race, heritage, and history. Saar has been awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship and two National Endowment Fellowships. She has exhibited at many galleries and museums, including the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Her work is included in the collections of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, among other institutions. She currently resides in Los Angeles, CA and is represented by LA Louver.