This piece, part of the Expressionist collection at LACMA, was pivotal early on in my choice to become a sculptor, giving me the freedom not to be overly concerned with realism and technique. Initially the work seems ghoulish — the coloring, the contortion of the figures, the mother’s arm, which is twisted up in such a way it looks broken. Her neck looks broken too. The piece feels very pained, until you think of the artist working within the confines of the original wood log. I love that the sculpture reflects its genesis — the shape of the log, the mark of the chisels. Now that I’m a mother, I also think of times when you are so dead tired, you grab your kid and you fall asleep together. In that respect I see the work as less painful and more peaceful.
—Alison Saar, as told to Jori Finkel
Image: Hermann A. Scherer's "Sleeping Woman with Boy," 1926; painted wood. Gift of Anna Bing Arnold. Courtesy Los Angeles County Museum of Art.