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Selma Hortense Burke
Selma Hortense Burke, Fish
Selma Burke, for whom the Selma Burke School of Sculpture in New York City and the Selma Burke Art Center in Pittsburgh are named, was a distinguished black-woman sculptor. She sculpted in brass, stone and wood, and her best subjects are nudes and historical figures. Selma Burke's most famous accomplishment is the portrait of Franklin Delano Roosevelt on the dime coin that is used today. She was also an influential teacher and moving force in the development of black art in America. Her work is reminiscent of Aristide Maillol, with whom she studied. Selma H. Burke was born in 1900 in Mooresville, North Carolina. In 1943, she won an international competition and was chosen to design a portrait of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. After some unsuccessful sketches from photographs, Selma Burke asked Roosevelt if he would sit in person. Roosevelt did sit for Ms. Burke on February 22, 1944. The completed work became a 3'6" by 2'6" bronze plaque with a profile of Roosevelt that included the inscription of the Four Freedoms: Freedom from Want, Freedom from Fear, Freedom of Worship, and Freedom of Speech. Selma Burke believed in passing on what she had learned as a skilled visual artist. From 1940 up until the late 1970's, she taught art and sculpture at Livingston, Swarthmore, and Haverford Colleges. In 1940, she became the founder of the Selma Burke School of Sculpture in New York City, and, later in 1968, she established the Selma Burke Art Center in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. The A.W. Mellon Foundation selected Ms. Burke as a hired consultant from 1967-1976. Her works of art have been exhibited in numerous museums around the world. Among her many honors is the Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Visual Arts presented by President Jimmy Carter in 1979. In 1989, she was among the Essence Awards honorees for the Arts. Selma Burke died in 1995 at age 94 in New Hope, Pennsylvania. Fish Sculpture, Plaster with Bronze Patina
other medium, 6.5" x 17.5"
Signed "Selma Burke"
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