Little Lady With Purse – a Sculpture by William Edmondson
Little Lady With Purse is one of the sculptures created by William Edmondson, a prominent African American artist, whose parents were freed slaves. An interesting fact is that there is an article missing in the name of the sculpture, the reason for which may be lack of the sculptor’s knowledge and poor education. The given sculpture is now being exhibited in Austin Peay State University Art Gallery in Clarksville, Tennessee. Material used for the sculpture, just like for the rest of the artist’s sculptures, is limestone. This makes this work of art look quite rough, even though we can still see that the sculpture is rather personified.
Little Lady With represents a woman with either one or two purses. Just like all the other sculptures by Edmondson, this one looks rather rough and not exactly gracious, which is rather a unique feature of all the artist’s works than a disadvantage. The general shape of the given sculpture represents an oval. The head of the woman is relatively large compared to the rest of the body. This may imply personification of the woman and dragging attention to her personality.
The given sculpture belongs to a series of other women sculptures created by William Edmondson. Some scholars believe that representation of women in the artist’s works implies the image of a wife who the artist never had. According to Bobby L. Lovett, this was supposed “to honor the women whose hearts he never won” (Lovett, 1999). Also, keeping in mind that the artist belongs to the African-American community, without any doubt we can say that the woman is an African American as well. Another reason for us to make such a judgment is that the woman has bushy and supposedly curly hair, which is a typical feature for African American women.
Looking at the head of the woman, we can see that it is rather large because of the massive hairdo. Facial features of the woman are quite rough: we can see distinctive eyebrows, big eyes and a noticeable nose. The mouth, on the other hand, does not seem to be very distinctive which may imply some historical facts from the life of African American women in the last century not being able to speak for themselves and expressing their points of view. The woman’s eyes are situated on different levels, which creates a certain dissonance in the look on her face: the woman seems a little bit puzzled of even confused.
We have gotten acquainted with a sculpture by an African-American sculptor William Edmondson – Little Lady With Purse, which represents a woman who is holding, supposedly, one or possibly two purses. Being made out of limestone – as we can notice, the favorite material most often chosen by the sculptor – it is quite rough. We have made a conclusion that the woman depicted in the sculpture, belongs to the African-American community, to which the sculptor belongs himself. Certain feature of the work of art are symbolic, e.g. the missing mouth may imply the hard life and lack of rights of African-American women. In general, even being rough, the sculpture leaves a good impression and delivers the feelings of the woman.
Lovett, Bobby L. From Plantation to the City: William Edmondson and the African-American Community, essay in The Art of William Edmondson: Cheekwood Museum of Art University Press of Mississippi, 1999. Print.