Curious Window Eyes: Inspired by Beyte Saar’s “The Black Girl’s Window”

Gouache on paper

Day 279 and Black Girl’s Window

Betye Saar collects bits of the world, listens to the stories they tell, and shares those stories through her artwork. Her 1969 piece Black Girl’s Window caught my attention with it haunting certainty while I was taking the MOMA’s Coursera Modern Art & Ideas. The lecture voiced a brief overview of the piece as I found myself transfixed by the figure’s gaze.

Looking through the Black Girl’s Window and into her eyes, I felt a glimpse of a young woman’s challenges, of the pain that intermingled with her power, and the power that radiated from stories hidden behind her eyes. The MOMA lecture explained how,

“[Black Girl’s Window] encourages us to think about connections between eyes, that are often said to be windows on the soul, and pictures, that have been said to be windows on the world. Saar herself once said that she considers windows to represent a means of traveling from one level of consciousness to another.”

This connection with eyes reminded me of CognEYEzant and the power viewing other’s eyes as windows has; reminded me that with each eye, or set of eyes, comes a perspective, and untold universe; and reminded me that to ever have a chance of glimpsing those universes, we must nurture our curiosity.

On her website, Betye Saar writes of the importance of curiosity in her work, summarizing the concept in a poem she wrote in 1998:

about the unknown
has no boundaries.
Symbols, images, place and cultures merge.
time slips away.
The stars, the cards, the mystic vigil
may hold the answers.
By shifting the point of view
an inner spirit is released.
Free to create.

By Betye Saar

If you happen to be in the Manhattan area between October 21, 2019 and January 2020, you can check out Saar’s show The Legends of
Black Girl’s Window
at the MOMA.