UNT Art Gallery’s Inaugural Exhibition: Mirror Mirror
On March 8, the UNT Art Gallery held the reception for internationally acclaimed artist Alison Saar’s “Mirror Mirror: The Prints of Alison Saar” exhibition. “Mirror Mirror” is part of the Southern Graphics Council International Conference and celebrates Saar receiving the 2019 SGCI Lifetime Achievement Award. Saar also delivered a keynote lecture at UNT as part of the SGCI Conference.
“Mirror Mirror” is the first exhibition to feature Saar’s prints. Saar’s art in the exhibition focuses primarily on African-American culture, primarily the diaspora of Africans, and on gender. While there are a few statues displayed in the exhibition, all of them are companion pieces to the prints displayed.
The curator of “Mirror Mirror,” Tracee Robertson, explained that some of the prints are made to expand on Saar’s statues. An example of this is the White Guise print, which was made at UNT and is premiering in this exhibition. The print White Guise is a companion piece to the statue of the same name.
Alison Saar is a Los Angeles-based artist who has worked primarily in sculptures and prints for over 35 years. A few of Saar's biggest influences were her mother, Betye Saar, who is another artist, and one of her professors at Scripps College, Dr. Samella Lewis.
Saar says that she grew up with a mixed cultural background consisting of African-American, Irish, and German heritage, but her mother's African-American culture had more influence in their home. She explained her mother's influence on her, saying, “My mother was very involved with civil rights; I was about five then, but that probably had a really big impact on me.” She also stated she grew up more connected to the African-American side of her family than the German and Irish parts of her family.
When asked if she has any other artistic influences, she answered that her other influences include Indigenous American culture and Mexican-American culture due to her time living in Los Angeles.
“I feel that a lot of people like to think that deep down somewhere that they have indigenous ancestry,” Saar remarked. She further explained her point by commenting that she has a sort of affinity for the groups that have been brought to America or displaced.
Other contributors to the “Mirror Mirror” exhibition are the Mary Jo and V. Lane Rawlins Fine Arts Series, the College of Visual Arts and Design, and the Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation. All of the pieces that will be displayed in the exhibition are from the collections of the Jordan D. Schnitzer Family Foundation, whose mission is to make the prints and other artworks in the collections of both Schneider and the foundation accessible to everyone.
The “Mirror Mirror” exhibition was a collaborative effort, which Robertson expanded on.
“Since UNT is a host university for the Southern Graphics Council International Conference, UNT could nominate artists for their Lifetime Achievement Award and we chose to nominate Alison,” she said.
Robertson further explained the collaboration in getting the exhibition up once Saar agreed to do the keynote lecture and display her art.
“We got in touch with Kimberly Davis [a director at the LA Louver Gallery], Alison’s representative in LA, and started working from there and eventually we reached out to Jordan Schnitzer because he had many of Alison’s works as well.”
“Mirror Mirror” will be on display in the University of North Texas Art Gallery from March 8 to May 11. After “Mirror Mirror,” the Jordan D. Schnitzer Family Foundation will be setting up more exhibitions in other institutions celebrating Saar's work.
Header image courtesy of Michael Clements.
Header by Kylie Phillips.