Alison Saar, a Los Angeles native, earned her BA in Art History, with a thesis on self-taught African American artists, at Scripps College in 1978 and her MFA from Otis/Parsons School of Design in 1981. She also studied African, Latin American, and Caribbean art and religion, which gave her art a multicultural approach.
In the 1980's, Saar began making sculptures and room installations that focused on the themes of cultures of the African Diaspora. Through the use of archetypal images, Saar reaches out to audiences from backgrounds as culturally and ethnically diverse as her own. Her mother, well-known artist Betye Saar, has European, Native American, and African American ancestors; her father, Richard Saar, painter turned conservator, is of German and Scottish origin.
Fragments of lore, myth and legend, as well as the practices of the everyday are woven into Saar's powerful images where contemporary expression enshrines centuries of man's spiritual evolution. Saar, in her work, combines found materials like tin, wood, dirt, and roots, addresses humanity in the broadest sense, and continually explores spiritual themes.
Her work is held by the Walker Institute, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Studio Museum in Harlem and the Whitney Museum of American Art where it was included in the 1993 Biennial, among other institutions. She has received a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, the Flintridge Foundation Award, the Joan Mitchell Foundation Award and two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, as well as a residency at the Studio Museum in Harlem. Saar is represented by Phyllis KInd Gallery in New York and by L.A. Louver in Los Angeles.