Edmonia Lewis

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Edmonia Lewis and Henry Ossawa Tanner

When considering art there are many elements involved in a work of art. The most important elements in art are the most obvious one's to see. Mary Edmonia Lewis and Henry Ossawa Tanner are two artists who have created art that speak to people in depth of their creativity and inspiration from others. Although these two artists study two different genres of art, both of these artists have great talent that has been recognized throughout the world. Mary Edmonia Lewis who was born in 1843 and Henry Ossawa Tanner who was born in 1859 have come a very long way, and overcame countless obstacles to become successful. “Edmonia Lewis was the first African American woman in the United States to gain widespread recognition as an artist, and the first African American in the United States to gain an international reputation as a sculptor” (Mary 40). Edmonia Lewis spent her early childhood with her mother's family, the Chippewa Indians. She was known as Wildfire, and her brother was known as Sunrise. Edmonia and her brother were orphaned when Edmonia was about ten years old, two aunts took them in as children. Both Edmonia and Sunrise lived in northern New York state (Buick 10). Sunrise, with wealth from the California Gold Rush, financed prep school education for Edmonia Lewis, and then an education at Oberlin College, beginning in 1859. It wasn’t until Edmonia entered Oberlin College that she started going by her birth name. Edmonia was considered a very popular student in college. On January 27, 1862 Edmonia’s college life took a turn for the worse. While at Oberlin College, Edmonia was accused of poisoning two white female students, who also boarded at John Keep's home, a well- known Oberlin trustee. While awaiting trial, she was nearly beaten to death. Edmonia was defended in court by John Mercer Langston, an Oberlin graduate. She was acquitted and carried from the courtroom on the shoulders of supportive friends, and continued...
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