los-angeles

View of “Alison Saar,” 2018. Photo: Jeff McLane.

Alison Saar

L.A. Louver

View of “Alison Saar,” 2018. Photo: Jeff McLane.

For Alison Saar’s most recent show at L.A. Louver, “Topsy Turvy,” she took as her muse the character of Topsy from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, recasting the slave girl of the Civil War–era novel as a figure for our time. The “wooly hair . . . braided in sundry little tails” remained, but here became an emblem of implacable defiance. In ten new sculptures and six related paintings on variegated supports pieced together from indigo-dyed seed sacks, vintage linens, denim, and one found trunk, Saar rendered Topsy with dark and sometimes patinated skin (the sculptures comprise admixtures of ingredients including wood, tar, steel, ceiling tin, wire, acrylic paint, and gold leaf), and encircled her head with an orb of cotton puffs extending from branches that seem to sprout from the tips of twisted locks. High Cotton (study), 2017, a painting of a deep-blue field from

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