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Made for the Hood Museum of Art: Alison Saar, Inheritance

Hood Quarterly, winter 2004

Last year, Alison Saar was the Artist-in-Residence at Dartmouth College. In conjunction with that prestigious role, an impressive exhibition of Saar’s sculptures and prints was held by the Studio Art Exhibition Program in the Jaffe-Friede and Strauss Galleries in Hopkins Center (April 1–May 4, 2003). During this period, she further contributed to the vital cultural life of the college by informally advising the Studio Art Department’s undergraduate majors, participating in critiques of their class assignments, and speaking publicly about several favorite works in the Hood’s permanent collection. Somehow Saar also found time to devote to her own creative efforts. The Hood Museum of Art took advantage of the Los Angeles–based artist’s residence in Hanover by commissioning her to create a limited-edition print. This print will be offered to Benefactors of the Hood’s primary patron group, the Lathrop Fellows, and a brilliant impression will enter the museum’s permanent collection.

The image that the artist created exclusively for Dartmouth is titled Inheritance. The three-color woodblock print with chine collé measures 22 x 30 inches and is based upon a memorable 6-foot-tall sculpture by Saar that bears the same name. That bold, tin-clad work was a centerpiece of last spring’s Studio Art Exhibition Program show and is intended to be both a tribute to her mother—famed assemblage artist Bettye Saar—and a bold evocation of the historical strength transmitted to the descendants of the African diaspora. Saar carved the woodblocks for Inheritance during her residency, further clinching this print’s relationship to the Upper Valley community.

In August 2003, Saar returned to Hanover to work with Dartmouth’s Professor of Printmaking, Louise Hamlin, and Master Printer Sarah Amos on the edition for the Hood. Thirty impressions, plus several artist’s and printer’s proofs, were pulled throughout the past term, which the artist then signed. This unique collaboration represents a first for the college, and the Hood is extremely proud of the creative results. Inheritance will be on display in the museum during the winter. In bringing this work to Hanover on a permanent basis, we note that Saar’s work is already represented in some of finest museums in the United States—for example, the Whitney Museum of American Art; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and the Denver Art Museum. Although Inheritance is, for the time being, the only object by this multitalented artist in Dartmouth’s collection, we expect it will be joined by others in years to come.

Read more about membership at the Hood, including the museum's Lathrop Fellows Program.

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