Augusta Savage was one of the most important Black artists and activists of all time. A sculptor, and a critical part of the Harlem Renaissance, she was also a teacher. Her studio was a crucial influence on the development of a string of artists who would go on to be internationally recognised, including Jacob Lawrence.
Campaigning for equal rights for African-Americans in the arts, the steps Savage took were bold but necessary, and she did what she could in the face of insidious de facto and de jure racism. Today, she is rightly seen as a trailblazer.
Born in 1892, in Green Cove Springs near Jacksonville, Floria, Savage had experimented with making figures from an early age, mainly making small animals out of the natural red clay she found in abundance in her hometown. Reflecting the hardship she faced from the get-go, her father was a poor Methodist minister who was vehemently opposed to his daughter’s interest in art, and he did all he could to stop it.