The Weight of Buddha (Contemplating Mother Wit and Street Smarts)

In The Weight of Buddha, Saar retains her focus on race while
simultaneously returning to her early interest in spirituality. The
assemblage is an amalgam of Buddha, Aunt Jemima, Black Sambo—
a children’s book character drawn as a racist “pickaninny” caricature—
and a postal scale, which for Saar symbolizes justice. The
meditative, esoteric figure of Buddha, who is literally being weighed
on the scale, contrasts with the commonsense values ascribed to
Aunt Jemima (Mother Wit) and Black Sambo (Street Smarts).

Betye Saar
The Weight of Buddha (Contemplating Mother Wit and Street Smarts), 2014
Painted figures, chain, and postal scale
The Eileen Harris Norton Collection. Courtesy of the artist and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles, California. © Betye Saar.
Robert Wedemeyer