Maid-Rite (Mask Eyes)
After Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in 1968, Betye Saar began collecting figurines, printed matter, and other material culture objects that bore derogatory images of African-Americans. Gradually, she began incorporating them in her work. She explained, "In collecting derogatory images of blacks, which I felt perpetuated racism, I also found photographs of African-Americans and I started collecting those. I recycled them, empowering them as warriors to combat racism. I think the earliest image that I have using an African-American or a Black one was the derogatory one which was the liberation of Aunt Jemima." Saar continued to use these images into the 1990s. "Maid Rite" is among the most surprising for its use of a washboard to bear the confrontational face of a caricatured maid.
Date of Birth
Mixed media on vintage washboard
24 x 12 x 2 in. (60.96 x 30.48 x 5.08 cm.)
Art by Women Collection, Gift of Linda Lee Alter
© 1998 Betye Saar Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY