Google Doodle salutes pi­o­neer­ing U.S. sculp­tor Ed­mo­nia Lewis

The Hamilton Spectator - - A&E - MICHAEL CAVNA

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.

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