Betye Saar's The Liberation Of Aunt Jemima

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Betye Saar’s piece titled The Liberation of Aunt Jemima represents the African American women of society. When first viewing this work, one is confronted with three separate images portraying the African American woman, known as Aunt Jemima. Yet, with further review, a deeper meaning emerges, one tied to social and political matters. This piece of art is very personal for the artist, and it speaks volumes to who she is, not only as an individual, but also to her cultural heritage and history. Saar is of African American decent, born in 1926, with this piece commissioned in 1972 (Montagne). Hence, she was raised in an era encumbered by segregation, integration, and the civil rights movement, led by the likes of Martin Luther King and Malcom X; a turbulent time, and one that clearly has a voice within her work.…show more content…
In essence, her artistic works are a collage of various materials. Saar’s work is along the lines of a folk artist; someone untrained in the professional aspects of artistry, but clearly focused on ethnic and cultural identity. From viewing her work, I felt it was immediately apparent that her creative attitude is focused on the theme of inequality and persecution of the African American race, undoubtedly focusing on women. Saar’s use of Aunt Jemima’s image is representational of the strife encountered by these women, clearly a symbol of the past, present, and the conflicting role that is stuck in the middle. As Kathryn Shattuck of The New York Times relates, this woman " with discomfort by focusing on stereotypical images and languages and not allowing her audience to turn away" (Shattuck). One is easily drawn into the story presented by

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