We learned about the artist Augusta Savage (1892–1962), who overcame poverty, racism, and sexual discrimination to become one of America’s most influential 20th-century artists.
Augusta grew up in a poor family in America. She discovered as a child that she enjoyed making small sculptures and had a real talent for art. To make her sculptures she used red clay that she found around the area where she lived.
As an adult, Augusta Savage became known for creating amazing sculptures of people. Although they look as if they are made of metal, she couldn’t afford expensive materials so she made her sculptures out of clay and then painted them. Unfortunately, as the clay was fragile, most of her work no longer exists and there are only photographs to remind us.
In 1940 she retired from art and moved to a farm in New York where she taught others to create art instead.
She said, “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.”
We created our own sculptures, inspired by Augusta Savage’s work. We sketched the figures first after working on the correct proportions. Then we made a figure out of pipe cleaners and then covered it with clay. Finally, we painted our sculptures with bronze paint. Unfortunately, as you can see, some of our clay work is just as fragile as Augusta Savage’s!