Icons of the Harlem Renaissance: Augusta Savage’s Gamin and Lift Every Voice and Sing by Dr Theresa Leininger-Miller
Dr Theresa Leininger-Miller will analyze the two best known works by Augusta Savage (1892-1962), Gamin (1929, the bronze bust of a streetwise boy) and Lift Every Voice and Sing (1939) in terms of their titles and iconography, a brief history of the subjects in art and culture, Savage’s training, and the long-lived popularity of the sculptures. The 16-ft. tall plaster Lift Every Voice and Sing was one of the most admired pieces at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. It was a conservative, representational sculpture designed both to placate white jurors/viewers with its humble choir singers and inspire African Americans with its message about musical talent, reverence, and racial uplift. These two pieces overshadowed the breadth and depth of Savage’s oeuvre, whose works number over 130.
Dr Theresa Leininger-Miller is Professor of Art History at University of Cincinnati (UC), where she teaches 19th- to 21st-century American and European art history. Her publications include New Negro Artists in Paris: African American Painters and Sculptors in the City of Light, 1922-1934 (Rutgers, 2001); essays in Imprinted: Illustrating Race (Norman Rockwell Museum, 2022), The Routledge Companion to African American Art History, Deborah Grant; Harlem Renaissance; Black Paris; Paris Connections: African American Artists in Paris, Women Artists of the Harlem Renaissance; Out of Context: American Artists Abroad; The Modern Woman Revisited: Paris Between the Wars, and Picture Cincinnati in Song; essays in Panorama and Source: Notes in the History of Art; and multiple book and exhibition reviews. Leininger-Miller has lectured widely in the United States and abroad, and appeared on radio and television, and in documentaries. The curator of exhibitions at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Yale University Art Gallery, Weston Art Gallery, and UC’s Langsam, Blegen, and DAAP Libraries, she was a Rockwell Center Fellow and the recipient of awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Georgia O’Keeffe Museum Research Center, Kress and Luce Foundations, and the Smithsonian Institution. At UC, Leininger-Miller received the Diversity Ambassador Award and the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Research, among others. She also has served as Chair of the Association of Historians of American Art. She became a Tyson Scholar at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in August 2023.