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Sep 22 - Dec 31, 2011

Alison Saar: Feallan and Fallow

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Madison Square Park Conservancy’s Mad. Sq. Art announces Feallan and Fallow, a six-piece installation featuring four newly commissioned works by Los Angeles-based artist Alison Saar. Drawing inspiration from the cyclical qualities of life and nature, Saar’s Feallan and Fallow will take park-goers and visitors on a journey through the four seasons as inspired by the ancient myth of Persephone in the urban oasis that is Madison Square Park. The series will premiere alongside two of the artist’s known Treesouls (1994), standing fourteen feet amidst the Park’s surrounding foliage. Feallan and Fallow is a commission of the award-winning Mad. Sq. Art program, and will remain on view daily from September 22 through December 31, 2011.

For the occasion of the Madison Square Park installation, the artist presents four larger-than-life works cast in bronze featuring the seasons as embodied by the female form at different stages of maturation. Spring is depicted as an adolescent girl perched high upon an existing tree trunk. Her wild head of roots cascade downward to conceal her face as chrysalises in various stages of hatching are shown woven within her hair and covering her body as if lively, fluttering moths emerging from cocoons. Summer is depicted as a pregnant woman whose womb holds a swarm of fireflies, illuminated at the center of the bronze sculpture for all to see. Fall is represented by a woman of the harvest with a head of branches extending upwards, barring no leaves but a smattering of pomegranates, some whole and others split. The woman holds her skirt in both hands catching the fallen fruit while others descend to the ground. Winter is shown by a curled stone-like figure, cast in bronze in which the seasons come to rest, only to start anew once more.

Together the series tells of the Greek myth of Persephone, daughter of Demeter and Zeus, who embodied the earth’s fertility and whose tale gave rise to the establishment of seasons. Abducted by Hades and forced to live in the underworld, Demeter’s mourning of her lost daughter lead the earth to become barren. In turn, Zeus negotiated Persephone’s release on the condition no food would pass her lips though Persephone was eventually tricked by Hades into sharing pomegranate seeds. In consequence, Persephone was confined to living in the underworld for six months, and the earth for six, giving rise to the four seasons as we know them today.

In addition to the new series, the artist presents two Treesouls (1994) to stand 14 feet high among the Park’s existing foliage.  Comprised of found and sculpted wood with copper cladding, the pair depicts a coupled young man and woman whose legs dissolve into the earth as a web of searching roots.

More About the Artist

Alison Saar was born in 1956 and raised in Laurel Canyon, CA. The daughter of an art conservator and the well-known artist Betye Saar, Alison developed a fascination with art objects and artifacts from around the world at an early age. Inspired by Outsider Art (such as Simon Rodia’s Watts Towers in Los Angeles), pre-Columbian and African art, as well as her mother’s oeuvre, Saar’s sculptural work examines our collective relationship to nature and the mythologies that bind disparate cultures together.

Saar received her BA from Scripps College in 1978 where she studied with noted art historian Dr. Samella Lewis, and went on to earn her MFA from Otis-Parsons Institute (now Otis College of Art and Design). Saar has been artist-in-residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York City (1983); Roswell Museum of Art, New Mexico (1985); Washington Project for the Arts, Washington, D.C. (1986); and Hopkins Center, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire (2003). She has received two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (1984 and 1988), and was awarded the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in 1989, and Flintridge Foundation Award for Visual Artists in 2000.

Saar’s work is included in many public collections, including the High Museum, Atlanta; Walker Institute, Minneapolis; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, and Whitney Museum of American Art (where it was included in the 1993 Biennial), New York, among others.

In 2008 Saar completed Swing Low, a monument to famed abolitionist Harriet Tubman on 123rd Street in Manhattan. Swing Low is a permanent installation presented in cooperation with New York City Parks & Recreation and New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

Alison Saar is represented by LA Louver Gallery, Los Angeles.

Major Support for Feallan and Fallow is provided by Toby Devan Lewis.

Substantial Support for Feallan and Fallow is provided by L.A. Louver Gallery, Sorgente Group, Liane Ginsberg, Darren Walker, and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and NYC & Company

Delta Air Lines is the Official Airline sponsor of Feallan and Fallow. This project is supported in part with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council. The Madison Square Park Conservancy is a public/private partnership with New York City Parks & Recreation.