Karin Merx, 2019, Portrait Edmonia (Wildfire) Lewis, Oil on Canvas, 40 x 60 cm.

Her story told: Edmonia Lewis (1844-1907) was the first black visual artist to achieve broad, international recognition. She was a sculptor of African and American Indian descent.

The New York Times wrote: ‘As an artist she transcended constraints, and as a woman of color, she confronted a society that wished to categorize her.’ For Edmonia who was a free woman of colour, it was a risk in itself to become an artists, and especially a sculptor that was mainly a job for men.

She had to endure racism even though she was free. Students of the school she went to lied about an event and blamed Edmonia. She was severely beaten up. But this strong woman kept going pursuing the career that she admired.

As soon as she had enough money, she went to Rome to become the classic sculptor. She said: ‘In the land of liberty there is no room for a coloured sculptor.’ In Rome she was very successful, sold her work for thousands of dollars, and had affluent people commissioning her.

Edmonia Lewis stayed true to who she really is, and made her life work by just doing that. A famous artist, and still a role model for many.