Photos: Artist Lezley Saar Paints A Stirring Portrait Of Marginalized Identity In 'Salon des Refusés'
Nestled in Exposition Park's museum campus, the California African-American Museum is known for showcasing the work of artists who challenge established art-world norms. Lezley Saar is no exception; in her new show "Salon des Refusés," which opens at CAAM this month, the Los Angeles-born and raised artist presents an unique view of multifaceted issues like race and gender through portraiture.
The daughter of American assemblage artist Betye Saar, Lezley has worked with mixed-media text in previous exhibitions, and she's been known to infuse her personal life into her work. Saar's "Gender Renaissance" exhibition at L.A.'s Walter Maciel Gallery earlier this year, which featured paintings of "ambiguously gendered 19th century people," was inspired by her son's transition from female to male, the L.A. Times reported; Saar, who is biracial, questioned America's binary conception of race with a 2003 show titled "Mulatto Nation."
"Salon des Refusés," which includes three of Saar's most recent bodies of work, feels deeply personal in its own way—the exhibition provides the viewer an intimate look into the eyes of figures like "Miss Pearly, The Transcontinental Mindreader" and "Vesta the Johnny," who might have previously been excluded from the tradition of mainstream Western portraiture. The very title of Saar's show references this exclusion, taking inspiration from an art exhibition held in Paris in 1863 to display the work of artists who had been excluded from the annual Paris Salon.
CAAM is holding a "Can't Stop, Won't Stop!" event that will be free and open to the public on October 25th from 7 to 9 p.m, to celebrate the opening of Saar's "Salon des Refusés" show—which will run until February 18, 2018—as well as its other fall preview events, "We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965-85" and "Circles and Circuits I: History and Art of the Chinese Caribbean Diaspora."
The California African-American Museum is located at 600 State Drive in Los Angeles. Its hours are Tues through Sat, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Mondays. "Salon des Refusés" runs from October 25 to February 18, 2018. (213) 744-7432