Alison Saar (American, born 1956)
lithograph, etching and chine collé
29 1/8 in. x 28 3/4 in. x 24 1/2 in. (73.98 cm x 73.03 cm x 62.23 cm)
Anonymous Gift and Museum Purchase, Art Collections Purchase Fund, 1994.3. © Alison Saar. Courtesy of L.A. Louver, Venice, CA
In Blue Plate Special, artist Alison Saar presents a plated decapitated head situated on a table. The print shows the head of John the Baptist following his execution at the request of Salome’s mother. Saar returns to the subject of Salome several times in sculpture and print, always representing Salome as a powerful woman in command. Saar turns to religious, mythological, and folk sources in her works to offer reflections on cultural issues that impact African Americans. However, it is often left to the viewer to make the connection between form and symbolism. Perhaps by coding the decapitated head as African American – through the darkened skin tone and hair style – and the use of the phrase “Blue Plate Special” – referencing the low-priced meals available in American diners – one is also meant to interpret this work as a commentary on the violence and undervaluing of Black people and their bodies.