Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller

Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller 

Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller

Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller (June 9, 1877 - March 18, 1968) was an African-American artist and sculptress, notable as the first to make art celebrating Afrocentric themes.  A multi-talented artist who created poetry and paintings, she is mainly known as a sculptor who explored her African-American roots.  Fuller created emotion-packed work with strong social commentary, and became a forerunner of the Black Renaissance, a movement promoting African-American art.

Meta Vaux Warrick was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to a comfortable, middle-class family who trained her in art, music, dance and horseback riding.  Her career as an artist began after one of her high-school projects was chosen to be included in the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition.  Based upon this work, she won a scholarship to the Pennsylvania Museum & School of Industrial Art (PMSIA), now The University of the Arts College of Art and Design, in 1894.   

 Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller - Talking Skull

Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller, Talking Skull 

In 1898, she received her diploma and teacher's certificate.  Upon graduation in 1899, she traveled to ParisFrance, where she studied with Raphaël Collin,at the Académie Colarossi (sculpture), at the École des Beaux-Arts (drawing) and became a protégé of Auguste Rodin.  By the end of her career in Paris, she had her works exhibited in many galleries, including Siegfried Bing's Salon de l'Art Nouveau (Maison de l'Art Nouveau).

Returning to Philadelphia in 1902, she was shunned by members of the Philadelphia art scene because of the prevailing racial separation and discrimination of the time.  However, this treatment did not prevent Fuller from becoming the first African-American woman to receive a U.S. government commission when she was commissioned to create several dioramas depicting African-American historical events for the Jamestown Tercentennial Exposition in 1907. 

 Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller home in Philadelphia

Fuller's home in Philadelphia, at the corner of 12th and Manning, in Center City

In 1909, she married Solomon Carter Fuller, a young, African-American doctor who went on to become a pioneering psychiatrist.  The couple moved to Framingham, Massachusetts, in 1910, close to the Westborough Psychiatric Hospital where Dr. Fuller was employed.  That same year, a fire at a warehouse in Philadelphia destroyed her tools and the paintings and sculptures she had created over the previous sixteen years.  Emotionally devastated by the loss, Fuller turned her energies towards her family.

Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller - The Wretched 

Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller, The Wretched 

Her son Robert Fuller became a teacher at Framingham High School.  Winning numerous awards for her work over her lifetime, Fuller continued to exhibit her work until her last show at Howard University (Washington, D.C.) in 1961. 

Legacy

There is a middle school (Fuller Middle School) named after her and her husband located in Framingham, Massachusetts.  That school was formerly the Framingham South High School but was converted to its current use when Framingham South and North High Schools merged in 1991.

Poetry

DEPARTURE

The time is near (reluctance laid aside)
 I see the barque afloat upon the ebbing tide
While on the shores my friends and loved ones stand.
  I wave to them a cheerful parting hand,
then take my place with Charon at the helm,
 and turn and wave again to them.
Oh, may the voyage not be arduous nor long,
 But echoing with chant and joyful song,
May I behold with reverence and grace,
 The wondrous vision of the Master's face.

- Excerpted from Now Is Your Time! The African-American struggle for freedom, Walter Dean Myers 1991

See also

 

Great African American sculptors brought to you by Paris-based black painter Ealy Mays

 

REFERENCES / SOURCES / LINKS

 

Further reading

  • Rhapsodies in Black: Art of the Harlem Renaissance(1997) by Richard J. Powell and David A. Bailey
  • Harlem Renaissance: Art of Black America(1994) byMary Schmidt Campbell
  • 250 years of Afro-American Art: An Annotated Bibliographyby Lynn Moody Igoe with James Igoe. New York: Bowker, 1981.

Other links

Welcome to Ealy Mays Artworks

Celebration of over 150 years of Black Literary and Artistic development in Paris

Here you will find the works of one of the most prolific African American artists. Based in Paris, France, this selection includes current masterpieces as well retrospectives from a body of over 30 years as an ethnic artist painting in the United States, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Europe. Your choice of paintings, prints, posters, postcards, puzzles, memorabilia, T-shirts, collectibles, accessories,and more, is only a click away. Read more

It is the spectator and not life, that really mirrors art”  The Picture of Dorian Gray …Oscar Wilde

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