Connect with Lezley

Lezley Saar is a mixed-media artist and painter. Her artwork deals with themes of identity, race, gender, beauty, normalcy, and sanity. She has exhibited internationally, and nationally, and her work is included in museum collections such as The Kemper Museum, CAAM, The Ackland Art Museum, and MOCA. She is currently represented by Walter Maciel Gallery in Los Angeles.

While attending San Francisco State University, she worked at KPFA radio in Berkeley, and did illustrations for writers such as Ishmael Reed. She received her B.A. from California State University at Northridge in 1978.

Combining found objects, paint, and fabric, Saar’s work comments on themes of “hybridity, acceptance, and belonging.” Saar’s work is narrative, often inspired by literature or historical figures. She stated, “I like the idea of a painting sucking you in like when you really get sucked in by a good book…I use that kind of metaphor as a vehicle for doing my art.”

She herself comes from a family of artists, so this has been a huge inspiration for her work. To work alongside her mother, sister and now daughter has been a huge privilege for her. This is where she found much of her interest in feminist and African American legacies that morphed into her research on being biracial and really exploring hybridity and identity.

Of her recent exhibitions, in 2020 she has installed an exhibition called “A contouring of Conjourors” where she delves into the complexity of identity. Each piece is not given a title but a name. She has installed her exhibition as, “so that it resembles a series of seven shrines — sacred places where visitors may commune with spirits from the past, present and future.”

Saar is the recipient of the California State Senate Contemporary Art Collection award (2000), the J. Paul Getty Mid-Career Grant (1996), and the Seagram’s Gin Perspective in African American Art Fellowship (1995).