Sweeping Beauty

Alison Saar American

Not on view

A recurring theme in Saar's work is the role of women in society. In this piece the specter of a naked woman trussed up by her feet and morphing into a broom is mysterious and disturbing. Yet her flirtatious gesture and the sculpture's title add elements of playfulness. While the manner the work is installed recalls the lynchings in the South (described in the 1938 song "Strange Fruit": "Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze / Strange Fruit hanging from the poplar trees"), its form plays on the structure of traditional African fly whisks made with long horsehair. Saar notes that women, such as the one depicted here, are "the psychic strength within the family" who sweep up the messes in life and clear out the bad spirits.

Sweeping Beauty, Alison Saar (American, born Los Angeles, California, 1956), Carved and painted wood, copper sheeting, broom with cotton thread, and leather thong, with brass hanging bracket

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