Augusta Savage

Born: 29th February 1892

Died: 26th March 1962

Birth Place: United States

Known for: Being one of the leading artists of the Harlem Renaissance, as well as an influential activist and arts teacher.

Augusta Savage was a qualified sculptor and teacher.

She fought for equality for women and Black people.

She was one of the leading artists of the Harlem Renaissance

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.

Augusta Savage

Life story


Augusta Savage was born in Florida into a large family. She began making art as a child, using the natural clay found in her area. Skipping school at times, she enjoyed sculpting animals and other figures. But her father, a Methodist minister, didn’t approve and did whatever he could to stop her.


Despite this, Savage continued to make sculptures. When the family moved to West Palm Beach in 1915, she encountered a new challenge: a lack of clay. She eventually got some from a local potter and created a group of figures that she entered in a local county fair. Her work won a prize and the attention of the fair’s superintendent, George Graham Currie, who encouraged her to study art despite the racism of the day.


Savage moved to New York City in the early 1920s. In 1923, Savage applied to a special summer program to study art in France but was rejected because of her race.


Recognition and activism


Nevertheless, Savage started to make a name for herself as a portrait sculptor. She became one of the leading artists of the Harlem Renaissance. She was commissioned to create a sculpture for the 1939 New York World’s Fair.


Savage spent most of her remaining years by herself, enjoying small-town life. She taught children in summer camps, started to write and continued with her art as a hobby. She is remembered today as a great artist, activist and arts teacher, and an inspiration to the many that she taught.

What can we learn about the importance of not giving up from Augusta? Have you thought about Arts and the different ways you can express yourself? What is her greatest achievement and why?

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