Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller (1877-1968) is a UArts alumna (Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art (PMSIA), Class of 1898) whose fame has diminished over the years. Following her PMSIA graduation and an award of another year of post-graduate PMSIA study, Fuller studied and exhibited in Paris for three years. While in Paris she met Auguste Rodin, who gave her encouragement, and notables such as W. E. B. DuBois. Upon returning to Philadelphia she again attended PMSIA in 1903, studying ceramics. She is best known for her sculpture, “Ethiopia Awakening” (1914).
Ater states in her introduction that her aim “is to make Fuller’s art visible and to define its importance in the history of American art. The canon of American art continues to presume that there is one American art history and one way of telling it. We need to broaden the academic inquiry, for if we do not, we fail to acknowledge the entirety of American culture. Fuller’s art and the cultural moment in which she created it reveal the interdependence of art making, race, gender, history, and public culture in the United States during the Progressive era. Early twentieth-century critics hailed Fuller as a significant African American artist of her generation, often linking her to Henry Ossawa Tanner. Today, however, Fuller is marginalized, invisible, and isolated from serious scholarship. I write to rectify this situation.”