600 Main Street
Hartford, CT 06103
Contemporary Art Series: MATRIX Artists in Conversation: Michael McMillen & Betye Saar
Arrive early between 5 and 6 pm to view the newly reinstalled Contemporary Art galleries and attend a public reception.
Free and open to the public.
About Michael C. McMillen
Los Angeles native Michael C. McMillen started his career in the 1970s and 80s building movie props. He received a BA from San Fernando Valley State College and a MA and MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles. As an artist, his work includes sculptures, art installations, and short films.
McMillen’s work is in the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the Oakland Museum of California, the Laguna Art Museum, the San Jose Museum of Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, as well as the Australian National Gallery in Canberra and the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. He has also exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Barry Whistler Gallery in Dallas, Texas, and the de Saisset Museum at Santa Clara University. McMillen is represented by L.A. Louver gallery in Venice, CA.
About Betye Saar
A native Californian, Betye Saar grew up in Pasadena during the Great Depression. After high school, she took art classes at Pasadena City College, earned a BA from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1949, and pursued graduate studies at California State University at Long Beach, the University of Southern California, and California State University at Northridge. While the hometowns of many artists are often just points of departure, Los Angeles has been a constant presence in Saar’s life and an important source of inspiration. In fact, art historian Jessica Dallow has attributed Saar’s unique blend of interests and approaches to the importance of LA in the 1960s and early 1970s as “a site of geographic convergence of feminism, assemblage art, and black consciousness.”
Saar voices her political, racial, religious, and gender concerns in her art so that she may “reach across the barriers of art and life, to bridge cultural diversities, and forge new understandings.” Other works have sought to reveal marginalized and hidden histories, ones that are both personal and public. She has examined Asian and African diasporic religions in relation to personal spirituality, the construction of racial hierarchies based on skin tone within black communities, and the ways that objects retain the memories and histories of their owners. A recent series, centered on the theme of mental, physical, and cultural imprisonment, was shown in the 2010 exhibition Betye Saar: CAGE at Michael Rosenfeld Gallery.
Saar has received numerous awards of distinction, including two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships (1974, 1984), a J. Paul Getty Fund for the Visual Arts Fellowship (1990), a Flintridge Foundation Visual Artists Award (1998) and most recently, in 2013, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, presented her with the Distinguished Women in the Arts Award. In 1994, she and artist John Outterbridge represented the United States at the 22nd São Paulo Biennial in Brazil. In 2005, the University of Michigan Museum of Art organized the traveling exhibition Betye Saar: Extending the Frozen Moment, which examined the use of photographic fragments in her work. A role model for generations of women, Saar has raised three daughters, including two accomplished artists (Alison and Lezley). In 2005, the Ackland Art Museum at the University of North Carolina presented work by all three Saar artists in the traveling exhibition Family Legacies: The Art of Betye, Alison and Lezley Saar.
The work of Betye Saar is represented in numerous museum collections including the Detroit Institute of the Arts, High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Studio Museum in Harlem, and Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Her work was prominently featured in eight of the shows that comprised Pacific Standard Time—a suite of twenty-six exhibitions funded by the Getty Foundation that were shown concurrently in museums throughout California in 2011 and 2012. Presently, her work is included in the Brooklyn Museum of Art traveling exhibition Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties. Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC has represented Saar since 1996.