Bronze Busts by Augusta Savage

In the early 20th century, a remarkable renaissance emerged in Harlem. On the historic heels of the Great Migration, a mass exodus of over six million African Americans fleeing the segregated South, the New York City neighbourhood became a cultural hub for Black creatives. While a wealth of figures formed this “golden age” of art, music, and literature, the contributions of sculptor Augusta Savage can be found at its core. Augusta Savage learned both art and adversity at a very early age. As a child growing up in Florida in the 1890s, she taught herself to sculpt using the red clay of the local brickyard. “From the time I can first recall the rain falling on the red clay in Florida, I wanted to make things,” she said. “When my brothers and sisters were making mud pies, I would be making ducks and chickens with the mud.” While she was a skilled ceramicist her in own right, Savage considered the impression she left on her students to be her true masterpiece. “I have created nothing really beautiful, really lasting, but if I can inspire one of these youngsters to develop the talent I know they possess, then my monument will be in their work,” she said.

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