“The Ideal Works of Edmonia Lewis: Invoking and Inverting Autobiography” by Kirsten P. Buick
Kirsten Buick’s article “The Ideal Works of Edmonia Lewis: Invoking and Inverting Autobiography” focuses on several different works by the African-Indian sculptor. The article is beneficial in analyzing the cultural significance of Lewis’s works. Buick concentrates specifically on six of Lewis’s sculptures: Forever Free, Hagar in the Wilderness, Minnehaha, The Old Indian Arrowmaker and His Daughter, Hiawatha, and The Marriage of Hiawatha. Buick states, “while the subjects of her sculptures are African American and Native American women, invoking her autobiography, their features follow idealized, western European models” (190). In this article review, I will discuss Kirsten Buick’s use of data, structure, tone, and voice to formulate the article, the strengths and weaknesses her argument, and finally, broader implications of the article.
Kirsten Buick’s article is organized into four main sections: Lewis’s Freedwomen, Lewis’s Bondwomen, Lewis’s Indian Women, and Art and Self. Throughout the article, Buick’s tone remains scholarly and formal. Her voice remains neutral and without opinion. The first section of the article, Lewis’s Freedwomen, focuses on the sculptures Forever Free and Freedwoman on First Hearing of Her Liberty. Specifically she writes about the relationship between man and woman in the sculptures. Buick states that “criticism of Lewis’s Forever Free, for example, has often regarded the relative positions of the male and female as reinforcing gendered stereotypes of male ‘aggression’ and female ‘passivity’” (190). The second section, Lewis’s Bondwomen, focuses on single female figures in Lewis’s work. Buick states that Hagar in the Wilderness “represents the frustration of normalized gender roles within the body of one female figure” (196). The third section, Lewis’s Indian Women, discusses the contrast in Lewis’s portrayal of Indian men and women....
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