Rising Sun Exhibition Program

Alison Saar & Dejáy Duckett in Conversation

Event Information
This event will be held at the African American Museum in Philadelphia, 701 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106.
Join Us

Advance registration is required.

General Public
PAFA Members: Free
Lori Waselchuk
event graphic with photos of Alison Saar, a detail of her installation Hygiea, and Dejay Duckett

Join us at the African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP) for a very special evening with renowned artist Alison Saar, in conversation with AAMP’s Vice President of Curatorial Affairs, Dejáy B. Duckett as they explore Alison’s past, future and present work including her current full room installation for Rising Sun: Artists in an Uncertain America at PAFA, Hygiea.

About the Work: Saar’s Hygiea, titled after the ancient Greek goddess of health, is a monument to those who labor and risk their lives cleaning and maintaining in moments of crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. The figurative sculpture at the center of this installation draws inspiration from Gordon Parks’ American Gothic, Washington, D.C. (1942)—a portrait of charwoman Ella Watson—and from the story of Oseola McCarty—a domestic worker whose life savings provided scholarships for Black students at the University of Southern Mississippi. The figure also references Yemaya, the Yoruba goddess of cleansing and healing. Her double-headed broom is “not only for sweeping away dirt,” Saar explains, “but also [for sweeping away] sickness and malignant spirits.” Saar’s installation brings to light the efforts of domestic workers, janitors, and charwomen whose work is often taken for granted and emphasizes the centrality of their labor in facilitating the metaphorical rise of the sun.