Augusta Savage (1892 – 1962) was a prominent African American sculptor, educator, and leader in the Harlem Renaissance, a cultural movement centered in Harlem, New York City, during the 1920s and 1930s. She played a significant role in advancing the visibility of African American artists and their contributions to the arts.
Savage was born in Florida and displayed a talent for art from a young age. Despite facing racial and gender discrimination, she managed to pursue her artistic education and eventually moved to New York City. She studied at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art and later attended the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris.
Savage’s sculptures often focused on themes related to racial identity, the African American experience, and social issues. One of her most well-known works is “The Harp,” a sculpture that features a group of singing African American figures forming the shape of a harp, symbolizing unity and harmony within the black community. Unfortunately, this sculpture was not preserved and has been lost to history.
Savage also founded the Savage Studio of Arts and Crafts in Harlem, where she provided art education and mentorship to aspiring African American artists, many of whom went on to have successful careers in the arts. Her efforts in nurturing talent and promoting cultural awareness were pivotal during a time when opportunities for black artists were limited.
Despite her significant contributions to art and education, Savage faced financial difficulties and struggled to gain recognition during her lifetime. Today, she is celebrated as a trailblazer for African American artists and an important figure in American art history. Her legacy continues to inspire artists and advocates for racial equality and representation in the arts.
1) Augusta Savage, born in Green Cove Springs, Florida on February 29, 1892 to to March 27, 1962 (aged 70), was an American sculptor associated with the Harlem Renaissance.
2) She was also a teacher whose studio was important to the careers of a generation of artists who would become nationally known. She worked for equal rights for African Americans in the arts.
3) Savage continued to model clay, and in 1919 was granted a booth at the Palm Beach County Fair where she was awarded a $25 prize and ribbon for most original exhibit.
4) Following this success, she sought commissions for work in Jacksonville, Florida, before departing for New York City in 1921. She went to Copper Union & was selected before 142 other men on the list.
5) In 1934 became the first African-American artist to be elected to the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors. She launched the Savage Studio of Arts and Crafts, located in Harlem.
6) The Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Arts, a Baltimore, Maryland, public high school, is named in her honor. In 2007, the City of Green Cove Springs nominated her to the Artist Hall of Fame.