William Edmonson, Rabbit, 1940
Augusta Savage, Realization, 1938

Augusta Savage (1892 – 1962) was an American sculptor born in Florida. She attended Cooper Union where she was awarded a fellowship to study abroad in France but was rejected because of her race. She was later invited to study sculpture at a committee member’s home in Long Island, New York City, New York. Savage’s work is primarily portraits – in her early years she created busts of author and civil rights activist, W.E.B. Du Bois and civil rights activist, Marcus Garvey. In 1929, Savage was able to study abroad in France and Europe and returned to the United States during the Great Depression, teaching art and joining the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors. She was the first African-American woman to join the association, paving the way for her future artists. In 1939, Savage was commissioned to create a work for the New York World’s Fair – The Harp featured 12 African-American youth as the strings of the musical instrument. She spent most her later years in a small town, teaching art at summer camps, writing, and sculpting. She died in 1962. Today, Savage is remembered today as a sculptor, activist and arts educator.

Image released into public domain.

(source: http://www.wikimedia.org)

 

William Edmonson, Rabbit, 1940
William Edmonson, Rabbit, 1940

William Edmonson (1874 – 1951) was an African-American artist active from the 1930s to his death in 1951. Born in Tennessee to two former slaves, Edmonson worked in railway shops and at a local hospital as a janitor to support himself. Edmonson began sculpting in 1934 and did so because it is said he received a vision from God. His first projects were limestone tombstones for associates and he later moved on to sculpt pieces of religious symbolism including angels, animals, and birds. Edmonson’s also created sculptures of community and church members, and notable public figures including Eleanor Roosevelt. Edmonson’s work was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in 1938 and today Edmonson remains the first African-American artist to be given a one-person exhibition at the institution.

Image released into public domain. 

(source: Luce Foundation Center for American Art)