Gris-Gris Box, by Betye Saar, 1972

Betye Saar Gris-Gris Box, 1972

Medium: Mixed-media assemblage
Dimensions: 17 x 8 1/2 x 2 3/4 in. (43.2 x 21.6 x 7 cm)
Credit Line: Collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of Roberts & Tilton, Culver City, California

Gris-Gris Box is a boxed assemblage rooted in African American tradition, which Saar refers to as her ancestral boxes. The central figure within the box is a doll resembling an African American woman, surrounded by various ritual accoutrements, including feathers, beads, and a few spherical shapes that represent the planets. The hair suspended from the bottom of the box also references hoodoo or traditional healing practices. The ridge of the box is adorned with three eyes, important because the third eye is regarded as the inner eye in various spiritual traditions. The title suggests African American ritual practice, referencing the influence of memory, ancestry, and spirituality on the practice of art making.

Chicago Manual of Style
citation for this page
"Gris-Gris Box." Now Dig This! Art in Black Los Angeles, 1960–1980 Digital Archive. Los Angeles: Hammer Museum, 2016.