In the U.S., one of the earliest and most passionate discussions around the fine arts and their role in defining American identity and national aspirations took place over neoclassical sculpture. Issues of belonging and citizenship, gender, race, region, and class were negotiated through the medium of marble. In the 19th century, Mary Edmonia Lewis (1845-1907), the first woman of Ojibwe and African American descent to gain international acclaim as a sculptor, entered these conversations. In this presentation, Professor Kirsten Buick will explore the impact of Lewis's career on the most compelling debates of her day--the fight to abolish slavery, True Womanhood, spirituality, and how the U.S. would resolve its relationship to its Indigenous populations.
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