Soak Test

Artist Betye Saar on Living in the Now

A woman outside holding a wire frame.
96-year-old artist Betye Saar. Photography by Tracye Saar-Cavanaugh.

What does endurance mean to your practice?

When I create an artwork, I want it to have the quality to endure, to have the same meaning or impact years later.

What, if anything, gets easier with time? What gets harder?

What is easy is getting up in the morning, getting dressed, and making art. What is hard is not wanting to wake up. I’m 96 after all.

Do you ever look back on your work?

I usually don’t make judgments on my past work. Then was then and now is now.

What's your relationship to art history? What do you hope it will ultimately be?

I don’t really think about how people regard me or my art. Some people consider me a feminist. Some people consider me a Black artist. Some a printmaker. Some an assemblage artist. These judgments are made by others, usually art historians or journalists. I make art for myself, to satisfy my own personal creative needs.