Stop 201 - House of Fortune

House of Fortune, 1988
Mixed media installation
Courtesy the artist and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles

In this installation of found objects and recycled materials, drawings and sequin works, Saar combines symbols of the unknown from diverse traditions. At the work’s center, an Art Deco–style folding table and four chairs bear Nordic rune symbols, while the artist’s handprints evoke a séance. Four hand-painted silk banners represent the four elements (water, earth, air, and fire), frequently referenced in Saar’s works to evoke the basic principles of the universe. Four paper pulp drawings and eight sequin pieces depict chance and cosmologies using hearts, fans, dice, and lightning bolts.

Created following visits to Haiti in 1974 and 1978, Saar’s sequin pieces take inspiration from traditional Vodou flags (drapo vodou) and temples. She paid homage to this experience by commissioning Haitian sequin artists to create flags using her motifs. “It is not that I’m emulating Haitian Vodou or New Orleans Hoodoo or Chango or Santeria,” says Saar. “I just take a little bit from each one. . . . it’s one planet and how everybody contributes to that through their ethnic origins or their cultural practices.”

  • <p>Betye Saar, <em>House of Fortune</em>, 1988. Mixed media installation, dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles.</p>

House of Fortune

  • 201 - House of Fortune, 1988