Renowned artist Alison Saar to give distinguished lecture

The 2022 Jo Hockenhull Distinguished Lecture in Women’s Studies will feature LA-based sculptor, printmaker

Artwork+by+Alison+Sarr+on+display+at+the+Jordan+Schnitzer+Museum+of+Art%2C+Tuesday%2C+Feb.+1%2C+in+Pullman.

JUSTIN WASHINGTON

Artwork by Alison Sarr on display at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, Tuesday, Feb. 1, in Pullman.

ALEXANDRIA OSBORNE, Evergreen reporter, columnist, copy editor

On Feb. 10, the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art will host the 2022 Jo Hockenhull Distinguished Lecture in Women’s Studies, given by artist Alison Saar. 

Nishant Shahani, Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies associate professor, said the lectures take place every two years to honor the legacy of Jo Hockenhull, a former WSU emeritus fine arts professor. 

Shahani said Hockenhull helped establish Women’s Studies at WSU. She also started the printmaking program in the fine arts department and then served as the director of women’s studies for more than a decade. At WSU, Hockenhull was known for supporting diversity, free speech and artistic expression.

In her honor, the museum hosts the lectures and invites feminist artists to share their work and speak on the connection between art and social change, he said. 

Debby Stinson, marketing and relations manager at the museum, said when Hockenhull left WSU, she set up a distinguished lectureship endowment. 

“That endowment allows the museum to bring artists from around the world to WSU for lectures,” Stinson said. “This year’s distinguished lectureship is Alison Saar.”

Saar’s work is currently on display at the museum as part of the exhibition “Mirror Mirror: The Prints of Alison Saar.” She is a renowned printmaker, sculptor and exhibition artist based in Los Angeles. Her work often focuses on the African Diaspora as well as feminist perspectives.

“She’s going to be coming to speak about the work that’s in the show, but she’s also going to be speaking about the connections between art and social justice,” Stinson said. “Then she’ll provide an overview of her work in sculpture and printmaking.”

Stinson said a lot of Saar’s work is about slavery in America, specifically during the 1800s. She is excited to have Saar back because she enjoys her work and the topics her artwork covers. Saar visited WSU last fall to provide a guided tour of her exhibit. 

“Alison is brilliant at speaking about those things because she is mixed race. She is both Black and white,” Stinson said. “She really understands the issue of race from both sides, and her artwork is very deep and personal.”

Saar’s exhibition helps people understand her as an artist, beyond just the content she creates, which has an emotional impact on the viewer. Stinson said, because of that emotional impact, it is almost like Saar is opening someone up to receive new information.

“When we’re at our most emotional, we’re open,” she said. “I think her work is wonderful because she can speak to these racial issues coming from a place of personal knowledge, and she can open people up to new ideas.”

The visiting artists always interact with students at WSU. Shahani said the interaction with students is valuable, and he is looking forward to having Saar work with students virtually.

Shahani said he is also interested to hear how Saar connects her work to contemporary issues. 

“Often, we think of art as this mystical process, but it’s something that is accessible. It is relevant to our daily lives,” he said. “This is a great opportunity for folks to get to know a little more about the artistic process and to think about how art is connected with our daily material lives and the political world that we inhabit.”

The lecture will be held virtually from 4:30-5:30 p.m., and people can register to attend on the museum’s website