The Unassuming Subversion of Jacksonian-ERA Democracy: An Analysis of Mary Edmonia Lewis's Minnehaha and Hiawatha of 1868

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Publication Type honors thesis
School or College College of Fine Arts
Department Art & Art History
Faculty Mentor Lela Graybill
Creator Karahalios, Vasiliki
Title The Unassuming Subversion of Jacksonian-ERA Democracy: An Analysis of Mary Edmonia Lewis's Minnehaha and Hiawatha of 1868
Date 2019
Description By the mid-nineteenth century, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow had become one of the most celebrated poets in the United States. The publication of his poem The Song of Hiawatha in 1855 established him as the great American epic poet of the 19th-century. Not only was The Song of Hiawatha widely read and admired, but it became a source for Native representation through the works of nineteenth-century American artists. Arguably, Longfellow inspired to a greater extent than any other American literary figure-and Hiawatha was certainly foremost among these, as Longfellow was credited for choosing a an American subject at a time when American poets were turning to Europe for inspiration. Perhaps the most peculiar renderings of Longfellow's poem are that of Mary Edmonia Lewis. Lewis, who was both African American and Native American (Chippewa), was one of the first American women of color to receive international recognition for her artistic achievements. As part of her practice, she created a series of sculptures inspired by Longfellow's Hiawatha, and the portrait busts of the principle characters, Minnehaha and Hiawatha, are especially intriguing. Standing at 35 and 29 cm high, these petite busts appear at first to be unassuming, but close looking and a better understanding of the historical context reveal profound insights of how the works function as a portrait of the characters of the poem, and as an equalizer of Native men and women. This thesis will address the tension between connectivity and autonomy in the formal visual qualities of the works, its representation in the tradition of portrait sculpture, and the critical intervention of neoclassical formalities as an engaged choice by Lewis to combat the romantic disappearance of the Native American.
Type Text
Publisher University of Utah
Language eng
Rights Management (c) Vasiliki Karahalios
Format Medium application/pdf
Permissions Reference URL
ARK ark:/87278/s62r9fpg
Setname ir_htoa
Date Created 2020-08-06
Date Modified 2021-05-06
ID 1588405
Reference URL
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