Beyond Midnight (Magie Noire)
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ebrowne's picture


Betye Saar takes the term “mixed media” to a whole nother level with the work Beyond Midnight

Mixed media is way easier to say than actually listing out everything used here which includs a dagger, assorted charms no doubt found at flea markets around LA and, the most important part, ~magic~.

Some call her a hoarder, a pack rat or prodigal collector but say what you will, because Betye Saar has mastered thrifting better than Macklemore or Ryan Lewis ever could. She has created a visual language with it. Saar explains that she “use[s] palmistry, phrenology, astrology, the sun, the moon, the hand, the head,” in her art, all of which point to the fact that she’s a witch. And not the stereotypical older, unmarried woman who poses a threat to societal conventions and is therefore demonized for her independence and autonomy. Betye Saar just incorporates spirituality and the occult into her work and isn’t afraid of being figuratively burned at the stake by critics.

This piece has a bunch of symbolic references to magical practices. The dagger is used to make an altar or magical circle, and also represents fire, the funky little metal circle on the bottom right is called a pentacle and represents Earth, and the moons and stars are obvs astrological. It all makes little to no sense and is easily brushed off if you don’t believe in magic (and no, believing in the wizarding world of J.K. Rowling does not count) but the least you can do is appreciate Saar’s work on an aesthetic basis. On top of being magical, it is also just really cool.



  1. Guerra, Juvenio. "The Ordinary Becomes Mystical: A Conversation With Betye Saar". The Getty Iris. N.p., 2012. Web. 7 Apr. 2017.
  2. Miranda, Carolina. "For Betye Saar, There's No Dwelling On The Past; The Almost-90-Year-Old Artist Has Too Much Future To Think About". N.p., 2016. Web. 7 Apr. 2017.
  3. Leopold, Shelley. "Betye Saar: Reflecting American Culture Through Assemblage Art". KCET. N.p., 2015. Web. 7 Apr. 2017.