Blow Top Blues: The Fire Next Time

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The Fire Next Time is a unique type of artwork that was drawn by Betye Saar, who was born in Los Angeles in 1926. Betye Saar first received national acclaim in her famous artwork, the Liberation of Aunt Jemaah in 1972. The picture showed a woman whose head was like on fire indicating the symbol of black power. The work embedded racism and feminist type that was experienced in that area. The main idea behind that artwork was that Saar wanted to enlighten people of the challenges that the black women were facing. The black women were undergoing racism, and it was difficult for them to get even basic jobs o support their families.

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In Blow Top Blues: The Fire Next Time, which is colored lithograph that is hand- painted, Saar exemplifies her feeling on the type of racism and segregation by putting some flames on the head of Aunt Jemima. The new liberation work of Aunt Jemima began in 1997 to 2000 and was fabricated on a vintage board. Many explanations surround that artwork until Saar himself came up and explained the meanings of that painting. He used different types of painting to explain the symbol meaning that the portrait tried to establish. The painting of Aunt Jemima explained the issues that African American women were experiencing and the need for liberating themselves. Saar is known to have traveled to various countries to try to educate people about racism that was widely experienced by the African American women. In that painting, Saar used recycled colors of images to bring out the clear meaning of his painting. The main idea was to present the theme of hardship and struggle that the African American women needed in their lives (Petersen & Getty Art History Information Program, 1990). Aunt Jemima painting was put on a fabricated board since it was seen as the best way of preserving that painting. The material used was also long lasting, and it was not possible for them to be washed away or rubbed. This will ensure the long-lasting of that painting. Saar developed individual objects and characteristics that depict the white oppression the black. For a long time in the American History, the element of slavery was widely experienced among the African American communities. The people who were mostly mistreated were the women since they could not fight for the rights like some of the male. Saar saw the importance of enlightening people on such matters through her painting (Glasner & Schmidt, 2010).

Saar used his talent for arts to come up with a unique description that would make people be enlightened of the black women. The art is drawn using a yellow pencil since there was very little technology at that time when it came to painting. This is did not limit Saar from drawing a unique artwork that is been recognized up to this generation. This artwork received a huge gift from the printing and drawing council because of the type of educative information it passed to the public. Many artists are known to draw pictures that have no meaning to the public. Most of such people are usually drawn for fun or entrainment.

The picture depicts a black woman whose head is on fire while she is wearing something that resembles a crown. Saar explained that the presence of the crown in that drawing shows the type of potentials that black women might be having yet they have no idea that it exist. Most of them underwent through all those challenges yet they had the will of freeing themselves. One of the challenges that the black women were experiencing was the lack of education. The black women role was to cook fro their families and feed the live stocks. Many of such women grew up knowing that education was left to women who in return will marry them and pay dowry. In other parts of the world, women were getting the exact education just like the male gender. They were able to provide for themselves and even their families.

The reason there is fire coming out of that woman head shows the knowledge that the black woman posses. Such knowledge is evident, and it only requires a little sparkle for is to show. In a way, Saar was motivating the black women to come out and fight for their legal rights. This would enable them to earn the respect they deserve (Bonner, Pennington & University of Mississippi, 2013).

In the picture, Aunt Jemima is wearing a bandana written LIBERATION. Saar explained that at that moment, the black women were tired of all those racism and feminism that they underwent for many years. It was time for them to liberate themselves and their entire generations. The face of the women in the picture shows a smile meaning that she is happy fighting for the liberation of the black woman community. The fire had a symbol meaning explaining the cross-cultural that were during that time. The black women community comprised of various cultures and each was subjected to their unique type of hardship that they needed to liberate themselves. Just like the way the fire is hot and evident, it showed the way those people were supposed to come out of their cocoons and be seen by the world. The words Liberation is written using different types colors to explain different things that the black community was supposed to liberate themselves. Fire is a recurring sign that explains the power that comes from unity (Bernard (Firm), 2009). If the women decided to unify and fight like one, then it means they will do much stronger.

The artwork provokes an emotional response to many people around the world. Most of the people were giving a bling eye of the challenges that the black women were facing then. Saar opened the path where other people come forth to fight the liberation of women. It led to the formation of activist groups that fought for the rights of the black women. The other liberation that the women had to force was the introduction of FGM among young black girls. It means that those small girls were circumcision against their ill. These are some of the traditions that were practiced by the black community cultures. This was regarded as an internal conflict that they needed to liberate themselves. The only means of liberation was to change that culture that allows women to under circumcision. Women circumcision has resulted in the death of many young girls since the people who were circumcising them were using the local methods such as knives. In cases of an accident, such girls may bleed until they die. Due to this aspect, there was the formation of various Non-governmental organizations that fought against FGM. They even went head and advised various governments to establish policiesthat forbid FGM in their countries.


Bonner, J. H., Pennington, E. C., & University of Mississippi. (2013). Art & architecture. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.Bernard Quaritch (Firm). (2009). Art & architecture. London: Bernard Quaritch.Glasner, B., & Schmidt, P. (2010). Chroma: Design, architecture & art in color. Basel: Birkhauser.Petersen, T., & Getty Art History Information Program. (1990). Art & architecture thesaurus. New York: Oxford University Press.

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