News from America.
Brent Plate writes: 'The American Academy of Religion has
announced this year's recipient of the award in Religion and the
Arts. The award is presented annually to an artist, performer, critic,
curator, or scholar who has made a recent significant contribution to
the understanding of the relations among the arts and religions, both
for the academy and for a broader public. This year's winners are
Betye and Alison Saar. In multiple media, prints, collage, assemblage,
sculpture, and installation, Betye Saar (b. 1926) and Alison Saar (b.
1956) push the boundaries and categories of art and religion. With works
in the collections of the finest arts institutions and museums, the two
have been hailed as 'conjure women of the arts.' Each one
practices a synthetic art, creating material shape for persistent
spiritual and cultural questions of identity, ethnicity, race, religion,
and gender. Betye Saar's Liberation of Aunt Jemima (1972) has
acquired virtual iconic status. The shrines and altars she creates
explore mysticism and vodou as well as racial and sexual politics.
Alison Saar's installations, objects, and sculptures pursue
relations among spiritualities in African cultural diaspora. Each one of
these women might be justifiably hailed as an insider artist for
persuasively, creatively bringing personal encounters with visionary,
vernacular, and 'outsider' arts of many cultures to public