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Betye Saars’ LACMA exhibit confronts stereotypes with spiritual Black art creations

African American futurism and cosmic exploration became tangible in Betye Saar’s “Call and Response” exhibit on display at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art now through April 5, 2020.

The remnants of Black Americans’ forced migration calls into question the journey that is not complete for any African American who hasn’t given deep consideration to their heritage and contemplated their true cultural identity in the world.

Saar’s “Call and Response” exhibit allows the viewer’s higher power to absorb the artist’s source of inspiration and expression for the “Supreme Priestess” and connect to the work and the artist.
Saar’s art utilizes items that are so-called “found” objects which are encapsulated in a collection of constructed scenes and tapestry intertwining and relating to the plethora of experiences in the Black diaspora.

Unfortunately, for those who imagine that an artist picks up something that is now found, it would assume that the artist felt that the item was lost instead of reclaimed or transferred intentionally through the universal powers of creative association.

The pieces in the exhibit travel through time choosing moments in the African American experience to communicate messages related to enslaved people, mysticism, racist ad presentations, and African themes that will constantly need to be reviewed and discerned by voices of a future generation.

It is here in the journals of the artist that provides a license to understand and interpret the very cosmic creations, imagery, shapes and forms that reveal constant documentation of African American communication with higher forces of creativity and information.

The obvious presentations of slave ships and Ku Klux Klan initials harbor signals of the feeling the high priestess artist has allowed to exit her consciousness and to take form in what we are calling art.


Many of the items hold the servitude that several some want to forget, others will only remind us of a time that was gruesome and murderous and yet there has been little to no atonement for the plight of those who are voiceless still in America. Saar’s work reminds us we are not voiceless if we choose to embrace our consciousness.

Unapologetically, she highlights the horrible depictions and painful moments that racism perpetuated and has decimated the spirits of generations, instilling conflicting souls and generations of African Americans walking through life today.

As we look through the lens of “Call and Response,” our artist guide allows us to see markings that we should transfix upon ourselves as we attempt to identify and hold onto who we are without being lost in a world that has yet to accept its forced calamity
on an entire race of people. Laws and institutions directed to further enslave and decapitate the intelligence of African heritage and spirit still exist today.

At the ripe age of 93, Betye Saar is the lighthouse for artists to understand their role in being clear when building art based on the memory of the savagery and the spiritual destruction that was created through racism, slavery and oppression.