Google Doodle salutes pioneering U.S. sculptor Edmonia Lewis
To kick off its celebration of Black History Month, Google turns to a 19th century artist who burned so bright that her twin gifts of blazing talent and steely determination could not be denied even in the face of her era’s discrimination.
Time and again, sculptor Edmonia Lewis — nicknamed “Wildfire” — faced obstacles and setbacks, yet she persevered as if her greatness were already cast.
Mary Edmonia Lewis was born near Greenbush, New York, circa 1844, and died in 1907. Lewis was orphaned at age 9, when she was adopted by maternal aunts and joined their Mississauga tribe.
She endured bitter racial bias at Oberlin College, which she began attending at age 15; she was falsely accused of poisoning classmates and was beaten, and was ultimately denied the chance to graduate.
She would go on to shine as the first woman of American Indian and African-American descent to discover international renown in the arts.
Wednesday’s Google Doodle, by artist Sophie Diao, salutes Lewis and her great work “The Death of Cleopatra,” which sits in Washington at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. (Her work “Forever Free” resides nearby, with the Howard University Gallery of Art.)
“Death of Cleopatra,” carved in 1876, was believed lost to history till more than a century later, when it resurfaced like a Phoenix, fittingly rediscovered by a fire inspector. It was later donated to the Smithsonian in 1994.
Google’s salute to Edmonia Lewis, by Sophie Diao.