“Searching For Augusta Savage”: Uncovering The Legacy Of A Pioneering Artist

February 16, 2024

“Searching for Augusta Savage” is a captivating 22-minute film that delves into the remarkable life and contributions of Augusta Savage.

A trailblazing artist who played a pivotal role in shaping the creative landscape for Black artists in the 1920s and 30s.

Premiering on Thursday, February 15, 2024, as part of PBS’ American Masters Shorts series, the documentary narrated by art historian Jeffreen M. Hayes, Ph.D., and featuring dramatic readings by Lorraine Toussaint, promises to shed light on Savage’s enduring impact.

Sculptor Augusta Savage was not only a visionary artist but also a tireless advocate for Black artistic expression.

She defied the norms of her time by opening the first gallery dedicated to showcasing Black artists’ work in 1939 and founded numerous organizations providing free art education to thousands.

Despite facing systemic barriers, Savage mentored a generation of celebrated artists, leaving an indelible mark on American art history.

However, despite her prolific career and significant influence, much of Savage’s work has been lost to history, with only a fraction of her sculptures surviving today. “Searching for Augusta Savage” delves into this mystery, exploring why evidence of her life and legacy seems to have been erased.

Dr. Denise Murrell, a curator at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, offers insight into the systemic biases that have marginalized Savage’s work in museum collections, highlighting the gender and racial disparities prevalent in the art world.

Produced and directed by Charlotte Mangin and Sandra Rattley, the film continues their mission of bringing untold stories to light.

Drawing parallels to contemporary issues of representation, the documentary underscores the ongoing struggle for diversity and inclusion in the arts.

Through digital reconstructions and archival research, “Searching for Augusta Savage” aims to reverse Savage’s historical erasure and honor her enduring legacy.

Complimentary educational materials for grades 6-12, based on the film, will be provided by The WNET Group’s Kids’ Media and Education team, offering students a deeper understanding of Savage’s contributions to American art and culture.

“Searching for Augusta Savage” is a production of Audacious Women Productions, LLC, in association with American Masters Pictures and Black Public Media, made possible with funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and support from various foundations and individuals. As audiences embark on this journey to rediscover Augusta Savage’s legacy, they are invited to explore the audacious spirit of a visionary artist who defied the odds and paved the way for future generations of Black artists.

For more information, visit audaciouswomen.com.

Photo credit: 1) HWM. 2) Black Public Media.

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