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"The Harp" by Augusta Savage
The Harp by Augusta Savage at the '39 World's Fair

The Harp was exhibited in the court of the Contemporary Arts building where it received much acclaim. The sculpture depicted a group of twelve stylized black singers in graduated heights that symbolized the strings of the harp. The sounding board was formed by the hand and arm of God, and a kneeling man holding music represented the foot pedal. No funds were available to cast The Harp, nor were there any facilities to store it. After the fair closed it was demolished as was all the art. For more information: visit the Smithsonian American Art Museum at (

"The Harp" by Augusta Savage
Agusta Savage

In 1939, Savage was commissioned to create a sculpture for the New York World's Fair. Titled The Harp, the work was strongly influenced by James Weldon Johnson's 1900 song, "Lift Every Voice and Sing." Always intensely involved in the Harlem arts community, Savage was a longtime member of the "306 Group"—so named for the art studio at 306 West 141st Street, where Savage exchanged techniques and ideas with black artists such as Charles Alston, Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence, and Morgan and Marvin Smith.

Text from: This resource was created in March 2003 by ARTSEDGE. ARTSEDGE is a project of the Education Department of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and is a member of the MarcoPolo Partnership

Reproductions of this magnificent piece of art are available on-line through

Note: The above text and photos are all credited to the web sites and organizations indicated. The information listed here is not an attempt to plagiarized, but to honor the art and memory of Augusta Savage, and the people who have promoted Ms. Savage and her work through their web pages.

Determined from childhood to become a sculptor, Augusta Savage moved to New York City in the early 1920s to study at Cooper Union's School of Art. There her talent as an artist blossomed and was quickly recognized, landing Savage a commission to fashion a portrait bust of scholar W. E. B. Du Bois. She would sculpt likenesses of many other African-American leaders, among them black nationalist and entrepreneur Marcus Garvey. In 1924 Savage sculpted a plaster bust of her nephew, Ellis Ford, that is widely regarded as her finest work. The bust, entitled Gamin (French for "street urchin"), won Savage a Julius Rosenwald Fellowship—and with it a year's study in Paris. Upon her return to Harlem, Savage began teaching aspiring artists. In 1932 she established the Savage Studio of Arts and Crafts, an arts-education center for adults. She later became the first director of Harlem's Community Arts Center. Funded by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the center invited African Americans to learn about their culture through the study of fine arts.

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