Okay kids today we’re gonna talk about Edmonia Lewis
Edmonia was a sculptor in the 19th century, and was half African-American and half Native American. She was one of the first people of colour from America to earn international fame and success for her artwork. She started sculpting during the civil war and trained under some of the most influential abolitionist sculptors of the time.
Not only was she a successful WOC artist, but she sculpted other people of colour in the neoclassical style:
Forever Free (1867)
Old Arrow-Maker and his Daughter (1866)
The Marriage of Hiawatha (1866)
Do you know how rare it was in the 19th century to have a piece of artwork show black people or Native Americans without them being ‘savages’ or half naked? Let me tell you, it’s pretty damn rare.
She would purposely leave her women more clothed than her male figures to desexualise them, and I probably don’t need to tell you why that was important at this time (if you really want to see how white artists saw black women, look up American Slave and The Virginian Slave).
Unfortunately she was made to make her female figures look more European as she got backlash accusing her of inserting herself into figures BUT they’re still hugely impressive given that most famous sculptors at this time had teams of people working on their work and adding all the details by hand, whereas Edmonia did absolutely everything herself.
Basically I think about Edmonia Lewis a lot and I think more people should know about her.