“A Matter of Clarity” by Betye Saar

and yet no matter where you are home is never far away yes today this exciting world filled with romance adventure and dangers masterpieces is waiting for you to enjoy

hi my name is Julian meow and I'm Renaldo's Walton family and Ford Foundation curatorial fellow during my fellowship I curated an exhibition entitled private life domestic and interior spaces and 20th century art the exhibition explores the idea that artists through world wars social reform and personal change in tragedy picta domestic and interior spaces to reflect their psychological reactions to these shifts and culture private life opened in February and became unexpectedly timely as we are all adjusting to a new relationship with our own domestic spaces I'd like to describe one work from the exhibition in detail Betty SARS a matter of clarity made in 1981 a matter of clarity is an invariably enigmatic work of art making its title which suggests resolve and coherence completely paradoxical to the piece itself while the subject matter presented in the work of art doesn't directly allude to a domestic or interior space if medium does it is composed of a handkerchief passed down from the artists great-aunt collage with an eclectic combination of symbols alluding to varying religions and expressions of self in an altered photograph light shines out of a dilapidated structure a cross shaped iris sprouts out of it under an Islamic crescent moon and in the corner a tarot card contains a hand framed by Arabic writing SARS interests and religions and mysticism can often be traced back to her childhood experience being clairvoyant but it was also a prevalent trend in the 1960s for people to turn to alternative religion and spirituality as a way of coping with intense social change and violence including world war in the Civil Rights era the handkerchief was a memento of Tsar's great aunt Hattie following her on staff in 1974 Tsar inherited her aunts collection of handkerchiefs and began to incorporate and transform them into art she repurposed these works which would become her hankie series in this way Tsar's a master of the assemblage collecting mediums from photographs and drawings to beads and plastic gems to generate works of art from ordinary objects the way in which czar tree is intrinsically de mess Dick's using objects that would be found in the home such as the textile handkerchief her choice to portray domestica t is not a message of submission though instead she subverts use connotations to reclaim and empower through objects of the home in her private life and this way SAR transcends the boundary between the private and the public including domestic and incest really significant objects in her works of art for view invites the public to interpret and examine her personal history


As we each navigate a new life indoors, our exhibition Private Life: Domestic and Interior Spaces in Twentieth-Century Art takes on a whole new context. Curated by Walton Family and Ford Foundation Curatorial Fellow Julianne Miao, Private Life looks at artists who look in their own spaces for inspiration. In our third installment of Call-a-Curator, Miao looks at Private Life artist Betye Saar and her work A Matter of Clarity.

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