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Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller

(1877—1968)


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(1877–1968).

Sculptor. Her pioneering interest in black themes helped to stimulate the Harlem Renaissance. Exemplifying African Americans' nascent racial pride and interest in origins, her best-known work, the bronze Ethiopia Awakening (Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library, 1914), symbolizes the rebirth of Afrocentric consciousness, as the personification rouses herself from sleep. Although based on widely admired Egyptian funerary precedents, the groundbreaking treatment incorporates Negroid facial features. The empathetic humanism of Fuller's work typically embeds race in profound human experience. Eloquently speaking to the African-American situation while more generally particularizing mortality, the poignant Talking Skull (Museum of Afro-American History, Boston, 1937) depicts a young man of African descent, subtly modeled, kneeling before a skull on the ground. His gentle demeanor and absorption in the memento mori before him suggest universal connotations, as well as African-American familiarity with suffering and death. In addition to other literary subjects, Fuller also produced many sensitive portraits and fluidly modeled genre figures, including workers and mothers with their children. Born in Philadelphia, Meta Warrick graduated in 1899 from the Pennsylvania School of Industrial Art (now University of the Arts). During subsequent study abroad, in Paris Rodin provided encouragement and informal criticism, and her supple realism owes much to his example. Returning to Philadelphia, she enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts for four additional years of training. In 1909 she married Solomon Fuller, a Liberian-born neurologist known as the first African-American psychiatrist, and moved permanently to Framingham, Massachusetts, not far from Boston.

Subjects: Art — United States History.


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