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Randolph Commemorates 100th Annual Exhibition With Purchase of Work by Betye Saar

2010 mixed media collage was a part of the 100th Annual Exhibition of Contemporary Art: The Vision Endures

4/26/2012 8:52:19 AM


LYNCHBURG—Randolph College will add Betye Saar’s Nevermore to its distinguished collection of contemporary American art.

The 2010 mixed media collage, which was part of Randolph’s 100th Annual Exhibition of Contemporary Art: The Vision Endures held at the Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College in the fall of 2011, was purchased to commemorate the extraordinary anniversary of the College’s annual exhibition. Thirteen alumnae made donations toward the purchase.

“This is an important work from a significant American artist, and its acquisition will enhance Randolph’s collection and add to the educational opportunities we are able to offer our students,” said John E. Klein, president. “The College’s interest in contemporary art, art education and growing its collection continues, and we are proud of the first-rate exhibitions, classes, and internships that the College is able to offer at the Maier.”

Nevermore was chosen after extensive discussion and input from a variety of College constituents, including art faculty members, Maier staff, alumnae, and others. Two of the College’s trustees, Katharine “Kitty” Stark Caldwell ’74 and Anne Tucker ’67, led the fundraising efforts.

As a mixed media collage on handmade paper, Nevermore is a multi-layered piece, literally and symbolically, and is considered an epic work for the artist, who typically works in smaller scale both in sculpture and collage. In Nevermore, the collage is affixed to a tombstone-shaped surface of handmade paper. Two crows suspend a thin layer of antique lace in the shape of a dress in front of the paper tombstone. A pattern seen through the center of the dress appears to be a second layer of lace. However, on closer look, the pattern reveals rows of black bodies in a supine position and an illustrated plan for slave stowage on the infamous slaver, the Brookes. In addition to its artistic significance, the work will also allow for interdisciplinary study, especially in literature. The title itself references Edgar Allen Poe’s poem, “The Raven.”

Saar is one of the most significant contemporary African-American female artists active today, and this piece will be the first of her works to be represented in Randolph’s art collection. Now in her 80s, Saar established her reputation as an important American artist in the early 1970s. During her 40-year career, she has become known for her consistently beautiful, challenging, and topical artwork, and she continues to contribute to the lexicon of American art.

“The weight of Saar’s influence on American art is represented by this piece,” said Martha Johnson, interim director of the Maier. “It is brilliant, beautiful, and unfolds to interpretation gradually and hauntingly.”

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CONTACT: Brenda Edson, Director of College Relations


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