Forever Free: Edmonia Lewis
Hey Joel Lauren Hey so. You know what I feel like I have been I have I have not done our podcast. Justice. And the reason being is because you know every. So often we do an episode on historical person. And it seems that you do a lot of episodes about like strong influential women. And I do episodes on. Deeply White Dude's. Deeply disturbed man and I was like you know what? I'm going to remedy this today. I'm going to do it right and I had I had known very little about this person until I started doing my research, the more I learned about her the more I was. Like. Impressed about her. Just. Her talents and her very interesting life and everything. So today. I'm going to be doing an episode on Ed Monia Lewis. Yes I don't know who that is. So at Monia Lewis was the first professional and internationally known African American sculptor. Wa Yes so Her work was like well known all over the world during this time period but we'll get into it so. she was she is believed to have been born on July fourth eighteen, forty four that she didn't. She didn't know her her birthdate. Lot of people didn't warn free in Greenbush New York, which is now the city of Rent Rensselaer and her father was Afro Haitian while her mother her her name was Catherine Mike Lewis was of Mississauga, Gibb Way and African American descent. So she was both African American Haitian and native American Great. her mother was known as an excellent weaver in crafts woman while her father was a gentleman servant and her family background inspired Lewis in her later work. So, by the time she reached the age of nine. Both of her parents had died to maternal aunts adopted her and her older half brother whose name was Samuel. He was born in eighteen thirty five to lose his father and his first wife in Haiti and the family came to the United. States, when Samuel was a young child Samuel eventually became a barber at age twelve after his father died because he needed to start making money for the family and so he became a barber I know isn't as seventh grader giving you a haircut that's a nightmare but apparently. We're pulling your teeth both. Apparently. He was very good because eventually he moved out West in became an entrepreneur in a landowner and was very successful. but at the time, the children lived with their aunts near Niagara Falls for about four years and Louis in her aunt sold Agip way baskets and other items such as moccasins, embroidered blouses, tourists, visiting. Niagara. Falls, TORONTO, and Buffalo. So Little Gail. during this time Lewis went by her native American name, which was wildfire while her brother was called sunshine or sunrise, which is like these are just cool. ASS names. Great names may great names man. So in eighteen fifty, two Samuel F. for San Francisco leaving Lewis in the care of captain s mills, and Samuel provided for her board and education. Captain are mills was a an abolitionist. He was a well known abolitionists at the time. So in eighteen, fifty, six, she enrolled at New York, Central College McGraw Hill which was a baptist. School at McGraw Hill. Louis. Met many of the leading activists who would become mentors, patrons and possible subjects for her work as her artistic career developed. So during her summer term there in eighteen fifty-eight, she took classes in the primary department in preparation for college, and she was enrolled in primary courses in order to help advance her reading and writing skills along with other subjects of academia that we're not quite advanced enough for the academic department. So. In a later interview, she said that she left the school after three years having been quote declared to be wild. Oh Wow. Yeah. She said until I was twelve years old I led this wandering fishing and swimming and making moccasins I was then sent to school for three years in McGraw Hill was declared to be wild they could do nothing with me Oh Yeah. So they seem to have expected a lot from. A kid who had been grown up just like doing whatever she could to survive. So. Eight fifty nine when she was about fifteen years old her brother Samuel and abolitionists sent her to win Ohio where she attended the secondary Oberlin Academy Preparatory School for the full three year course before she entered Oberlin College, which was one of the first US higher learning institutions to admit women and people of Color. At the time, she changed her to Mary Monia Lewis and began to study art. So from here on out, she's known as Ed Monia Lewis. She boarded with Reverend John. Keep his wife from nine until she was forced from the college in eighteen sixty three. So I'll tell you about that in a second. But at Oberlin with a student population of one thousand Lewis was one of only thirty students of color. Yeah, Reverend keep was white a member of the board of trustees and avid evolutionist and a spokesperson for Co Education so throughout her life, she was kind of moved from from patron to patient as a young child mostly with abolitionist family Scott.