Blood on the leaves and blood at the root

When I was 15, I saw Crossroads/Fertile Ground by Alison Saar at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts:


Untitled (from Crossroads installation) Photo by Katherine Wetzel

I don’t recall if I had seen an installation or knew that was what I was seeing, but this collection of work and the way it was staged changed me. The work dominated the space, but in a kind of gentle way. I had never felt surrounded, cornered, or embraced the way I did in the presence of Alison’s sculptures, nor had I been able to hear, smell, and experience art the way I did that day. Such was the effect of the experience, I drew a diagram of the installations in my notebook:

Notebook Pic 1994


The Fire sculpture (far right) had a heart like a coal stove, complete with crackling sound and heat. I had never seen work that incorporated the senses the way this did:


View of Crossroads installation at VMFA in 1993 – Photo by Ann Hutchinson



To be inside her created environment was astounding, heartbreaking and raw. I have always had a fondness for working with found objects because I believe they are loaded with information and energy. Alison’s use of such objects gives the pieces an extra dimension and weight. I can feel the history, the passage of time, the wear of life. The experience of Crossroads/Fertile Ground has driven my own installation work. Alison Saar continues to move, inspire, and devastate me:



Rouse, 2012 – Photo by Chris Warner

The tip of the iceberg:

~ by Athena on July 8, 2016.

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