Original Document
Original Document
Alain Locke on Sculptor Meta Warrick, 1936.

Sculpture has been strangely prominent in the work of Negro artists, for painting usually claims in modern times far the greater share of attention. But sculpture has been unusually popular with Negro artists, in spite of its technical difficulties and expensive processes....Meta Warrick's career as a sculptor was next to Mr. Tanner's the great vindicating example in the American Negro's conquest of the fine arts.... Most of the [early] work of this frail young woman was sombre and almost too serious for popular taste and favor.
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In 1907, a commission for a series of commemorative figures, illustrating the history of the Negro for the Jamestown Tercentennial Exposition turned her interest definitely to Negro types and a more realistic style. In 1909 the artist became the wife of Dr. Solomon Fuller and settled to a pleasant home life in Framingham, Mass. In 1910 a disastrous studio fire destroyed most of the work of her Paris period, and active work was not resumed until another commission for a series of Negro historical groups for the New York Semi-Centennial of Emancipation. From this point on, there has been a decided change of style in Mrs. Fuller's work. Her subjects and moods have become more placid and optimistic. "Mother and Child," "Life in Quest for Peace," "Watching for Dawn," the "Immigrant in America," "Peace Halting the Ruthlessness of War," characteristic subjects since 1914, clearly show this change. It provides an interesting contrast to the somber despair and melancholy of earlier work like "The Impenitent Thief" and the symbolic group, "The Wretched." However, some idea of the vigor and powerful imagination of this first period may be gathered from Professor Brawley's description of "The Wretched": "Seven figures, representing as many forms of human anguish, greet the eye. A mother yearns for the loved ones she has lost. An old man, wasted by hunger and disease, waits for death. Another, bowed by shame, hides his face from the sun. A sick child is suffering from some terrible hereditary trouble; a youth realizes with despair that the task before him is too great for his strength; and a woman stands afflicted with madness. Crowning all is the Philosopher, who suffering through sympathy with the others, realizes his powerlessness to relieve them, and bows his head in stony despair." One wonders what the full maturity of this message would have brought had the sculptor continued in this vein; certainly no such work could have the taunt of conventionalism or imitativeness cast at it.

Credit: Alain Locke, "The Negro Artist Wins His Spurs," in Negro Art: Past and Present (Washington, D.C.: Association of Negro Folk Education, 1936), 27-28, 29-30.
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