Augusta Savage: Renaissance Woman

Thursday, November 1, 2018 to Sunday, April 7, 2019


Organized by guest curator Jeffreen M. Hayes, Ph.D., the Augusta Savage: Renaissance Woman exhibition features nearly 80 works of art, including sculptures, paintings, and works on paper, and is the first to reassess Harlem Renaissance artist Augusta Savage’s contributions to art and cultural history in light of 21st-century attention to the concept of the artist-activist. The fully illustrated companion catalogue presents the most up-to-date scholarly research, re-examines Savage’s place in the history of American sculpture and positions her as a leading figure who broke down the barriers she and her students encountered while seeking to participate fully in the art world.  

A gifted sculptor, Savage (1892 - 1962) was born in Green Cove Springs and later became a significant teacher, leader, and catalyst for change. Overcoming poverty, racism, and sexual discrimination, Savage became one of this country’s most influential artists of the 20th century, playing an instrumental role in the development of some of the most celebrated African American artists, including: Charles Alston, William Artis, Romare Bearden, Robert Blackburn, Selma Burke, Ernest Crichlow, Gwendolyn Knight, Jacob Lawrence, Norman Lewis, and Morgan and Marvin Smith, whose works are also included in the exhibition. A prodigious and highly acclaimed artist in her own right, Augusta Savage created works that elevated images of black culture into mainstream America. A central figure in the Harlem Renaissance, she worked with other leaders, writers, musicians, and artists to showcase the contributions of African American culture. As a community organizer and teacher, Savage created a bridge between the first generation of Harlem Renaissance artists and subsequent generations of artists.

Through this exhibition, the Museum will highlight the artistic, social, and historic impact of Augusta Savage who, despite how she transformed the artistic landscape, is deserving of greater national appreciation. Today, Savage is best known for Lift Every Voice and Sing (formerly known as The Harp), her commissioned sculpture for the 1939 World’s Fair, and is recognized in Black community as an educator and an important community leader. However, Savage’s artistic skill was widely acclaimed nationally and internationally during her lifetime, and a further examination of her artistic legacy is long overdue. This exhibition will introduce Savage as a pioneering artist and community organizer who helped shape artistic movements that changed the way artists represent the Black figure, using art as a form of activism. This exhibition has received support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Sotheby’s Prize and was on view between October 12, 2018 to April 7, 2019.

Gallery Guide



Augusta Savage Exhibition Planning and Community Advisory Committee: Carol Alexander; Dustin Harewood; Barbara Harrell; Marty Jones; Princess Simpson Rashid; James Richardson; Adonnica Toler

Augusta Savage Host Committee (to date): Mr. and Mrs. Thompson Baker, III; Sally F. Baldwin; Caroline O. Brinton; Susan and Hugh Greene; Mr. and Mrs. William Harrell; John & Jan Hirabayashi; Mr. Hank Holbrook and Mrs. Pam D. Paul; Peter and Kiki Karpen; John and Nancy Kennedy; The Law Office of James F. Waters, III, P.A.; Velma Monteiro-Tribble; Rick and Amy Morales; Kitty and Phil Phillips; James Richardson and Sandra Hull-Richardson; Sharón Simmons and Shirley Webb; Nina and Lex Waters; Dr. and Mrs. H. Warner Webb; Mr. and Mrs. Charles B. Zimmerman  

Exhibition Season Presenters: Ameris Bank; City of Jacksonville; Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville, Inc.; Robert D. and Isabelle T. Davis Endowment at The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida; The Director's Circle at the Cummer Museum; The Schultz Family Endowment

Sponsors: Charmaine T.W. Chiu and Ernest Y. Koe; Dr. Elizabeth Colledge; Cynthia G. Edelman Family Fund; The Hicks Foundation; Bob and Monica Jacoby; Dick and Marty Jones; Trisha Meili and Jim Schwarz; Michael Munz; NEA Art Works; Van and Sandra Royal; Mr. Ryan A. Schwartz; Allan Schwartzman; Carl S. Swisher Foundation, Inc.; Sotheby's Prize; State of Florida; Wells Fargo

Community Partners: Avant Arts; City of Green Cove Springs; GENERATION W; Jacksonville Public Library; Jax Chamber; Leadership Jacksonville; Museum of Science & History; OneJax; Ritz Theatre and Museum; Special Project Partners; TEDx Jacksonville; University of North Florida Center of Urban Education and Policy; University of North Florida Department of Art and Design; Women of Color Cultural Foundation; Women's Giving Alliance

In-Kind Sponsors: Agility Press, Inc.; DoubleTree Jacksonville Riverfront; The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library; Wingard

With Publication Support From: Henry Luce Foundation