Edmonia Lewis

“Some praise me because I am a colored girl, and I don’t want that kind of praise… I had rather you would point out my defects, for that will teach me something.

  • Name: Edmonia Lewis
  • Born: July 4, 1844
  • Died: September 17, 1907 (Age 63)
  • From: Greenbush, New York
  • Pronouns: She/her
  • Occupation: Artist
  • Works:The Death of Cleopatra, Poor Cupid, Young Octavian, Forever Free, Hagar, Old Arrow Maker
  • Awards: Namesake of the Edmonia Lewis Center for Women and Transgender People at Oberlin College; Honored with a Google Doodle on February 1, 2017; Written about in poetry book Olio by Tyehimba Jess in 2016, which won a Pulitzer Prize.
  • Intersting Facts: She crossed paths with many famous abolitionists like Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison. She was considered the first African American and Indian female sculptor in America. Her mother nicknamed her “Wildfire”.

American sculptor Mary Edmonia Lewis was an orphan at a young age but was able to attend Oberlin College as she grew older. Shortly after leaving because of accusations brought upon her, she sailed to Rome and quickly became successful in sculpting. She used inspiration from the Emancipation Proclamation, her Native roots, and the bible to create some of her famous works like Forever Free, The Marriage of Hiawatha, and Hagar. Her life and her work are praised even after death and have received posthumous acclaim for the strong meanings they represent. 


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