Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller (June 9, 1877 - March 18, 1968) was an African American artist. She is best known as the first African American artist to make art celebrating Afrocentric themes. A multi-talented artist who created poetry and paintings, she is mainly known as a sculptor who explored her African-American roots. Fuller created emotion-packed work with strong social commentary, and became a forerunner of the Black Renaissance, a movement promoting African-American art.
Read more about Meta V.W. Fuller in Black Genius: Inspirational Portraits of America's Black Leaders By Dick Russell and Alvin F. Poussaint, free from Google Books.
Born Meta Vaux Warrick to a comfortable, middle-class Philadelphia family who trained her in art, music, dance and horseback riding, Fuller's career as an artist began after one of her high school projects was chosen to be included in the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. Based upon this work, she won a scholarship to the Pennsylvania Museum & School of Industrial Art (PMSIA), now The University of the Arts College of Art and Design, in 1894. In 1898, she received her diploma and teacher's certificate. Upon graduation in 1899, she traveled to Paris, where she studied at the Académie Colarossi (sculpture) and École des Beaux-Arts (drawing) and became a protégé of Auguste Rodin. By the end of her career in Paris, Ms. Warrick had her works exhibited in many galleries including Siegfried Bing's Salon de l'Art Nouveau (Maison de l'Art Nouveau).
Returning to Philadelphia in 1902, she was shunned by members of the Philadelphia art scene because of the prevailing racial beliefs of the time. However, this treatment did not prevent Fuller from becoming the first African-American woman to receive a U.S. government commission when she was commissioned to create several dioramas depicting African-American historical events for the Jamestown Tercentennial Exposition in 1907.
Fuller's home in Philadelphia, at the corner of 12th and Manning, in Center City
In 1909, she married Solomon Carter Fuller, a young, African-American doctor who went on to become a pioneering psychiatrist. The couple moved to Framingham, Massachusetts, in 1910, close to the Westborough Psychiatric Hospital where Dr. Fuller was employed. That same year, a fire at a warehouse in Philadelphia destroyed her tools and the paintings and sculptures she had created over the previous sixteen years. Emotionally devastated by the loss, Fuller turned her energies towards her family.
Currently, her son Robert Fuller is a teacher at Framingham High School.
Winning numerous awards for her work over her lifetime, Fuller continued to exhibit her work until her last show at Howard University (Washington, D.C.) in 1961.
There is a middle school (Fuller Middle School) named after her and her husband located in Framingham, Massachusetts.That school was formerly the Framingham South High School but was converted to its current use when Framingham South and North High Schools merged in 1991.