American, born 1956
Alison Saar’s work tells stories about the African American experience through references to American history, literature and mythology. While this was produced around the time Saar completed her graduate degree, it anticipates directions that her mature work takes in its use of unconventional materials and narrative elements. Its title suggests that the figure is male, while the broken chains suggests his liberation from slavery or subjugation. Saar may have chosen the title as a play on Richard Wright’s novel Native Son whose protagonist Bigger Thomas, motivated by anger, fear and feral impulses, broke free from the racism that imprisoned him figuratively, only to be imprisoned literally and ultimately sentenced to death.