Posted On: April 1, 2011
Alison Saar’s Feallan and Fallow is a six-piece installation featuring four newly-commissioned works by the Los Angeles-based artist.
Drawing inspiration from the cyclical qualities of nature and from the ancient myth of Persephone, Saar’s Feallan and Fallow takes visitors on a journey through the four seasons. The series premieres alongside two of the artist’s Treesouls (1994), majestic, fourteen-foot-tall figures with legs of roots.
The Greek myth: Persephone, daughter of Demeter and Zeus, embodied the earth’s fertility. After Hades abducts Persephone, her mother’s mourning causes the earth to become barren. Zeus negotiates Persephone’s release on the condition that no food passes her lips. However, Persephone is eventually tricked by Hades into sharing pomegranate seeds. As a consequence, Persephone is confined to living in the underworld for six months of every year, giving rise to the changing seasons.
Feallan and Fallow portrays the seasons as embodied by the female form at different stages of maturation. Spring is an adolescent girl perched high upon an existing tree trunk. Her wild head of roots cascades downward to conceal her face; chrysalises in various stages of hatching are woven into her hair and cover her body. Summer is depicted as a pregnant woman whose womb holds a swarm of fireflies. Fall is a woman of the harvest with a head of branches extending upwards, bearing pomegranates instead of leaves; this figure holds her skirt in both hands, catching some of the fallen fruit. Winter, cast in bronze, is a curled figure lying on its side on the ground, suggesting both hibernation and death.
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 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 for the Arts, 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 the Flintridge Foundation Award for Visual Artists in 2000.
Saar’s work is included in many public collections, including High Museum, Atlanta; Walker Institute, Minneapolis; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art New York; 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 the 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 LA Louver Gallery, Sorgente Group, Liane Ginsberg, Darren Walker, 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.