PERCENT FOR ART INTERVIEW | ALISON SAAR
Alison Saar is a Los Angeles native whose work explores themes of African cultural diaspora and spirituality. In November of 2008, Saar was commissioned for Swing Low, a powerful two-tone bronze statue of Harriet Tubman in a traffic island at West 122nd Street, St. Nicholas Avenue and Frederick Douglass Boulevard in Harlem. Below, Saar discusses her inspiration for the piece and how community input was integrated into this bold work of art.
Percent for Art: How did you come up with the imagery of Harriet Tubman on locomotive tracks?
Alison Saar: When I was first invited to come in and develop an idea for this piece, I started doing research on Harriet Tubman. I grew up in the 60’s when we were first learning about her and it was pretty superficial. I thought it was really important to see how she continued to put her own safety at risk, how she continued to put her own finances toward teaching other people in so many ways. I wanted to bring all those things to life in her story.