Augusta Savage

1892-1962) An African-American sculptor who struggled with poverty and racist attitudes, Augusta Savage became a leading figure among African-American artists.  Born in Green Cove Spring Fl, she taught herself the art of sculpting, spending many hours in the red clay.  She was known for her skill with commissioned portrait sculptures, especially ones that emphasized racial identity, such and W.E.B DuBois and Marcus Garvey and were identified with prominent persons in Harlem in New York City.  Later in her career, she focused more on ordinary people and the  integrity of their ‘common’ position in society.

Despite her father’s objections, Savage continued to make sculptures. When the family moved to West Palm Beach, Florida, in 1915, she encountered a new challenge: a lack of clay. Savage eventually got some materials from a local potter and created a group of figures that she entered in a local county fair. Her work was well received, winning a prize and along the way the support of the fair’s superintendent, George Graham Currie. He encouraged her to study art despite the racism of the day.

After a failed attempt to establish herself as a sculptor in Jacksonville, Florida, Savage moved to New York City in the early 1920s. Although she struggled financially throughout her life, she was admitted to study art at Cooper Union, which did not charge tuition. Before long, the school gave her a scholarship to help with living expenses as well. Savage excelled, finishing her coursework in three years instead of the usual four.

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