GREEN COVE SPRINGS – The Friends of Augusta Savage are hosting two events to celebrate Black History Month. One event will pay homage to Savage, a pivotal figure in the Harlem Renaissance and …
GREEN COVE SPRINGS – The Friends of Augusta Savage are hosting two events to celebrate Black History Month. One event will pay homage to Savage, a pivotal figure in the Harlem Renaissance and foster creativity in the next generation.
The inception of the Augusta Savage Fine Arts Program began with a conversation. Retired art educator Barbara Cornett, now the program’s director, met Friends of Augusta Savage President Henrietta Francis at last year’s Augusta Savage Cultural Festival. Cornett and Francis wanted hands-on activities for kids and they met frequently for a year.
Cornett called Savage, feature of Cornett’s classes, a homegrown heroine. Augusta Savage sculpted small animals when she was a girl, and Cornett wanted to have young children follow that model. She said it’s important to look at art from a historical point of view.
“Each workshop will focus on the life and work of an influential African-American artist and give each child the opportunity to create their own art piece using that artist’s medium,” Corneet said in a press release.
The fine arts program’s first event is Feb. 16, from 2-4 p.m. at the Green Cove Springs Library. The workshops will continue from March to May from 11-12:30 p.m. on the second Saturdays at the Thomas Hogans Memorial Gym and the second Tuesdays monthly from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Green Cove Springs Library, where the focus will be on parents.
Cornett said the program would start again from August to May and include more types of art.
“We’re at the very beginning of the program,” Cornett said. “We’re kind of troubleshooting it with this tiny portion in the anticipation of this growing into a fabulous complete arts program.”
Augusta Savage was well-known as a teacher of young black artists. Black artists who moved to New York in the early-20th century were told to visit her first. The first workshop after the kickoff event focuses on the style of Savage’s student, Jacob Lawrence.
Francis summed up what she wanted kids to learn with an Augusta Savage quote: “I have created nothing really beautiful, really lasting, but if I can inspire one of these youngsters to develop the talent I know they possess then my monument will be in their work.”
She said that quote was what the arts program was all about.
“The Friends of Augusta Savage knows there is so much unlimited, so much untapped, so much innate talent and skills lying dormant right here in Green Cove Springs,” Francis said. “We want to be that agent to provide that space as a catalyst to stir up those skills.”
Entertainment includes the Afri-Touch Fashion Show and a demonstration of West African culture by nonprofit Kreative Kids and Beyond. In addition to local artist showcases, food vendors, and children’s arts and crafts, musical performances by the U.S. Navy Jazz Combo, the Clay High Drumline, Heart’s Desire and Acoustic Visions fill out the program.
“There’s more art this year, more Augusta this year,” Francis said. “It’s gonna be moving. It’s nonstop. It’s happening.”
The successful sculptor faced many hurdles because of her race and gender, and Savage deserved recognition 56 years after her death as an artist, teacher and trailblazer, Francis said. Savage’s legacy with the city is continued through events like these and the Cummer Museum’s extensive Augusta Savage exhibition on display until April.
“I walked away speechless with a deeper appreciative understanding of her and her work,” Francis said of the exhibition.
This year’s Augusta Savage Cultural Festival, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Feb. 23, is at Spring Park. Last year, the event saw about 1,500 people come through, Francis said, and she expects more this year.