Alison Saar's Subway Preacher addresses the relationship between outward appearance and inner spirit. The sculpture was inspired by a homeless man whom Saar often encountered in the subway.

Although his clothing and demeanor are an indication of his material poverty, the preacher's heart is enshrined in his chest like a holy relic. In Subway Preacher, Saar calls attention to homelessness and to early-20th-century, African American preachers like Father Divine. She also pays homage to the store front churches of the Harlem Renaissance.

Saar is inspired by the myths, magic and rituals of African, Haitian, Creole, African American and contemporary life. Her materials are salvaged, and their unique histories provide complexity to the meaning of each sculpture.


  • Title: Subway Preacher
  • Creator: Alison Saar
  • Date Created: 1984
  • Physical Dimensions: w1423.42 x h2261.62 x d786.38 ft (Overall)
  • Type: Sculpture
  • Rights: Purchase: acquired through the generosity of Michael Weaver, M.D., Paul and Bunni Copaken, Larry and Stephanie Jacobson, and the Nelson Gallery Foundation © 1984 Alison Saar, © 1984 Alison Saar
  • Medium: Tin, wood, canvas, and mixed media
  • Culture: American

Additional Items

Subway Preacher (Supplemental)

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more


Google apps