AMA Book Club Resumes Bimonthly Meetings on Tuesday, March 16th

Friday, March 12th, 2021

In its penultimate club meeting of its second season on Tuesday, March 16, the AMA Art Lovers Book Club will discuss Graven Images: The Tumultuous Life and Times of Augusta Savage, Harlem Renaissance Sculptor, a biography by Gail Tanzer.

The meeting starts at 6 pm in the Willson Auditorium at the Albany Museum of Art, 311 Meadowlark Drive.

The biography looks at the life of Savage (1892-1962), an influential American sculptor and teacher who was associated with the Harlem Renaissance. A tireless worker for equal rights in the arts for African Americans, her studio influenced a generation of nationally famous artists.

“Besides Graven Images being a well-written, insightful story about the life, achievements and struggles of a talented sculptor who inspired a generation of artists, it’s fitting that we will talk about Augusta Savage during Women’s History Month,” AMA Director of Education & Public Programming Annie Vanoteghem said. “Women artists have made countless contributions to the art world, and Augusta Savage had a tremendous impact during the Harlem Renaissance.”

With most of her work in clay and plaster because of the cost of bronze, much of Savage’s work has been lost over the years.

After enduring the economic setbacks of the Great Depression, Savage was one of four women and two African Americans who received commissions to create works for the 1939 World’s Fair in New York. Her 16-foot-tall sculpture titled Lift Every Voice and Sing was inspired by the song. The plaster piece proved to be the most photographed artwork at the fair. Also known as The Harp, the sculpture showed a dozen African-American youths of graduated heights as the strings of a reimagined harp. The artwork was destroyed with other temporary installations after the conclusion of the fair, but there were postcards and small metal souvenir copies of it that were sold at the event.

During the World War II era, she moved to Saugerties, N.Y., where she wrote children’s stories and taught children’s art classes. While she was largely forgotten at the time of her death, in the ensuing decades she was rediscovered. She is now remembered for her groundbreaking work and influence, as well as her activism.

The locations of much of her surviving work are unknown, but one of her most famous sculptures, a 1929 bust titled Gamin that depicts a Harlem youth, is on permanent display in the Smithsonian American Art Museum.  

The club was originally scheduled to discuss Graven Images in January, but that meeting was skipped for health safety reasons because of the post-holiday increase in COVID-19 infections in the Albany area. Following health guidelines, space for the March 16 meeting is limited to a maximum of 12 participants.

“Since we have a limit on the number of people who can attend, we are asking everyone to RSVP by noon on Tuesday (March 16) to ensure there is space available for them,”Vanoteghem said. “That also gives us time to have the auditorium set up for the book club conversation.”

In addition to discussing Graven Images, club members at the meeting will suggest selections for the third series that opens in May.

The first meeting of the third series is May 18, when club members will discuss Loving Frank by Nancy Horan. In her novel, Horan imagines the story of Mamah Borthwick, who had a love affair with architect and designer Frank Lloyd Wright.

There is no cost to be a member of the AMA Art Lovers Book Club, and participants may attend as many or as few club meetings as they like. Email annie.vanoteghem@albanymuseum.com or call 229.439.8400 to reserve your place.

CURRENT AMA EXHIBITIONS

 n  Butch Anthony: Art, Nature, and Intertwangleism is in the Haley Gallery March 4-July 31, 2021.

Work, Worship & Community: Photography by Paul Kwilecki is in the East Gallery March 4-June 26, 2021.

Educators as Artists: 4th College Faculty Exhibition is in the McCormack Gallery March 4-June 26, 2021

Works by Tom Ferguson is in the Hodges Gallery through April 30, 2021.

Escape Plan, installation by Elinor Saragoussi, is in the West Gallery.