1920 – 1948 Confidence and Crises Supplemental Materials

Art Activities

Activist Art on a World Stage

Sculptor Augusta Savage was a key figure of the Harlem Renaissance and the first Black woman in America to open her own gallery. Savage helped establish a new narrative and identity for 20th-century Black Americans and created spaces for Black students in Harlem to study and exhibit art. Her own work combated the racism and visual stereotypes that were pervasive in imagery of the Jim Crow Era. Savage was one of only 12 woman artists commissioned to create a work of art for the 1939 World’s Fair. Her 16-foot sculpture The Harp drew inspiration from the song Lift Every Voice and Sing, which is often referred to as the Black National Anthem.

In this activity, students consider Augusta Savage’s inspiration for The Harp by creating their own sculpture in response to a piece of music. After analyzing the connections between Savage’s piece and the lyrics to Lift Every Voice and Sing by James Weldon Johnson and J. Rosamond Johnson, students choose a song that has personal significance to them and create a three-dimensional work of art using air-dry clay.

To read and download the lesson plan for this art activity,