Los Angeles

Alison Saar

Jan Baum Gallery

Alison Saar’s often ironic icons—life-size wood and metal figures, paintings on scraps of tin and guitar backs, and constructions called “potions”—are like models for sacred objects with the power to hurt or cure. These charms take their places as ritual fetishes in Saar’s prototypical folk religion—an amalgam of voodoo, feminism, Catholicism, childhood superstition, and African and Cuban lore. To this brew Saar adds her humor, urban sensibility, and pursuit of the ascension of the human spirit.

Cigarette fumes, coffee steam, and spirals are three images Saar employs to evoke the struggle to rise. Java Zombie, 1988, is a monoprint that combines images of a woman in an orange dress, a wrought-iron grill with a climbing vine design, an upward spiral, and a cup of coffee with wavy lines of steam floating above it. Here coffee appears in a dual role as both sacrament and addiction, with the

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