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Augusta Savage is remembered as an artist, activist, and arts educator, serving as an inspiration to the many that she taught, helped, and encouraged.
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With portrait commissions hard to come by, she began teaching art and established the Savage Studio of Arts and Crafts. Savage helped many young African-American artists,
including Jacob Lawrence and Norman Lewis. She also lobbied the Works Projects Administration (WPA) on behalf of African-American artists to help them find work during this time of financial crisis and helped to found the Harlem Artists' Guild. This led to a directorial position at the WPA's Harlem Community Center, which offered art instruction for all kinds of students.
Highly regarded as an artist, Savage was commissioned to create a sculpture for the 1939 New York World's Fair. Inspired by some of the lyrics of the poem "Lift Every Voice and Sing," she created The Harp. The work re-interpreted the musical instrument to feature African-American faces??depicted as if they were singing??appeared at the top of the harp strings, and the instrument's sounding board is transformed into a hand and arm. In the foreground, the figure of a young man kneeled, offering music in his hands. Although this is considered to be one of her major works, The Harp was destroyed at the end of the fair.
In 1940, Savage moved out of the city to live the Catskill Mountains area. She spent more time teaching art than actually making art at this time. One notable work from this era was The Pugilist (1942)??a confident and defiant figure who appears prepared to take on whatever might come his way.
During her life, she was unlucky in love. She married John T. Moore in 1907, but he died soon. A few years later, she married James Savage, but that union ended in divorce. In 1923, she married Robert L. Poston, an associate of Marcus Garvey, but he died the next year. She had one daughter, Irene. When she became ill late in her life, she moved back to New York City to be with her daughter and her family.
Savage died of cancer on March 26, 1962, in New York City. While she was all but forgotten at the time of her death, Savage is remembered today as a great artist, activist, and arts educator, serving as an inspiration to the many that she taught, helped, and encouraged.
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They are the famous African-American artists who have exquisitely shared portrayals of historic events and individuals, cultural perspectives, and the experiences and struggles of minorities through their artwork. Examine our list of pivotal black artists, including Jean-Michel Basquiat, who helped to bring African-American and Latino experiences into the elite art world through his graffiti works; Augusta Savage, a sculptor and leading artist of the Harlem Renaissance, who experienced racial discrimination by an art program's selection committee; and Kara Walker, who has used paper silhouettes to depict race and gender relations.
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