When writing reviews, I frequently mention how much I learn from reading fiction. In the case of Stone Mirrors: the Sculpture and Silence of Edmonia Lewis, I learned about an artist of whom I had never heard. Edmonia Lewis was a teen during the Civil War. Her mother was a Cherokee and her father was African American. She was orphaned early and spent time at Oberlin College & Conservatory - one of the first schools to fully integrate white, black, male, and female students. After tragic circumstances, she left school and moved to Boston where fate led her on the path to becoming a successful sculptor, earning her way to Rome to further her education in sculpting and continue her art. The struggles she experienced in her early life are evident in her work. Some of her most famous pieces include: Hagar, The Death of Cleopatra, and Old Arrow Maker (all images below courtesy Smithsonian American Art Museum - click on the image to learn more).
The author of this biographical novel brilliantly incorporates the Biblical story of Hagar and the historical story of Cleopatra into this quick but gorgeous verse telling of the life of Edmonia Lewis. I was excited to learn that one of Lewis’ sculptures, Portrait of a Woman, is on display at the St. Louis Art Museum. I will be visiting it soon!
photo by Mark Abeln (click on image to learn more about this work)
I wish I would have known who she was (or took the time to research her) when was celebrated in the form of a Google Doodle on February 1, 2017. I hope some did.