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Snake Man

Alison Saar

American (b. 1956)
Snake Man (1994)
Woodcut and lithography
Gift of Friends of The Museum, 1997.8

Alison Saar’s work is rooted in the arts and cultures of Africa, the African Diaspora, and indigenous peoples of the Americas, as well as her own multiracial identity. This print references snake-based myths and rituals that are part of spiritual practices around the world.  

Saar often makes prints based on her finished sculptures, a process that allows her to rethink her work graphically. The print Snake Man relates to the sculpture Snake Charmer (1985) that Saar had completed a decade earlier. While the cracked appearance of the printed figure’s skin evokes the rough-hewn texture of the sculpture, the stark difference in color between the two works and the flatness of the print encourage divergent interpretations. Saar considers the subject both serious and playful: “Whether he was a shaman or a gypsy, he could go between people and stir things up.”