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Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller, sculptor who depicted the Black experience

Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller's sculpture at Harriet Tubman Square. "Emancipation" was created as a plaster version in 1913 for Commemoration of the Emancipation Proclamation. More than eighty years later (1999), it was cast in bronze for Harriet Tubman Square in Boston's South End.Erin Clark/Globe Staff

This Black History Month, the Globe is saluting people who have made a difference in Massachusetts.

Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller’s career as a sculptor took her from Philadelphia to Paris, and her work is celebrated worldwide.

A protege of French artist Auguste Rodin at the turn of the 20th century, Fuller is renowned for sculptures that depicted the Black experience and anticipated themes of the Harlem Renaissance.

Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller studied in Paris and Pennsylvania.UNC Library

“Fuller used the figure as metaphor to represent broad themes as African-American artists and intelligentsia sought to formulate and celebrate an African-American cultural identity,” states a profile by the Danforth Museum of Art at Framingham State University, where her work is permanently displayed.


Fuller was born in Philadelphia in 1877. Her father was a barber and her mother was a beautician, according to a biography published by Magazine Antiques. She attended the Pennsylvania Museum School of Industrial Art and then continued her studies in sculpting in Paris in 1899.

After returning to the United States in 1903, she began working on commissions from leading Black scholars and activists.

In 1913, she created a sculpture honoring the 50th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. A bronze version of that sculpture is in Boston’s Harriet Tubman Park.

She married Dr. Solomon Carter Fuller, a psychiatrist who worked at Westborough State Hospital. They lived in Framingham.

The city’s Fuller Middle School is named for the couple, and her attic studio has been recreated at the Danforth Museum. The museum’s collection includes decades of work by the artist, who died in 1968.

Fuller’s creations, including “Study for Ethiopia Awakening” and “Study for the Spirit of Emancipation,” celebrate African heritage while expressing aspirations for the future, according to the museum’s profile.

Fuller, in her own words, said her work was “of the soul,” rather than the figure, according to the magazine profile.


John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com.