Augusta Savage: Renaissance Woman

August 24 - December 8, 2019

Featuring nearly eighty works of art, including sculptures, paintings, works on paper, and archive materials, this exhibition was the first to reassess Harlem Renaissance artist Augusta Savage’s contributions to art and cultural history in light of her role as an artist-activist. A gifted sculptor, Savage (1892–1962) was born in Green Cove Springs, Florida, and later became a significant teacher, leader, and catalyst for change. Overcoming poverty, racism, and sexual discrimination, Savage became one of this country’s most influential artists of the twentieth century, playing an instrumental role in the development of many celebrated African Works by other American artists, including William Artis, Romare Bearden, Gwendolyn Bennett, Robert Blackburn, Gwendolyn Knight, Jacob Lawrence, and Norman Lewis, were also included in the exhibition.


A prodigious and highly acclaimed artist in her own right, Savage created works that elevated images of black culture into mainstream America. A central figure in the Harlem Renaissance, she worked with other leaders, writers, musicians, and artists to showcase the contributions of African American culture and was the first Black woman to open her own gallery. As a community organizer and teacher, Savage provided a bridge between Harlem Renaissance artists and subsequent generations of creative individuals.


Augusta Savage: Renaissance Woman was curated by Jeffreen M. Hayes, Ph.D., and organized by the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, with support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Sotheby’s Prize. The fully illustrated companion catalogue reexamined Savage’s place in the history of American sculpture and positions her as a leading figure who broke down the barriers she and her students encountered while seeking to participate fully in the art world.


The presentation of the exhibition at the Palmer Museum of Art was supported by the Paul Robeson Cultural Center and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.