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La Luz

Artist: Betye Saar (American, born 1926)

Date: 1989
Medium: Mixed media assemblage (painted wood, metal, glass, electric candles, and wax candles)
Dimensions:
Overall: 63 7/8 x 25 x 13 7/8in. (162.2 x 63.5 x 35.2cm)
Signed: On bottom of reliquary cabinet (front view)
Credit Line: Museum Purchase
Object number: 97.2
Label Text
Betye Saar is a deeply spiritual person who has traveled extensively. She has found that different cultures share many similar beliefs and use similar symbols in their religious rites. Her assemblage sculptures often illuminate these cross-cultural practices.

La Luz (Light), for example, represents integrated spiritual systems in Mexico and the American southwest. Within the cabinet of La Luz, Saar placed religious figures from Christianity, while on the back of the cabinet there are santeria, symbols that include an all-seeing eye, a ladder, a hand, a heart, and a snake.

These symbols have significance for numerous cultures. The ladder, for instance, represents the quest for higher consciousness while the snake is the "crafty serpent" found in many mythologies - he is Damballah in African and African-inspired new world cultures (such as Haiti); and in the Judeo-Christian tradition the snake is found in the Garden of Eden as the tempting conduit to carnal knowledge and sin.

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Copyright
© Betye Saar