Selma Hortense Burke
(31 December 1900 – 29 August 1995) was an American sculptor
Born in Mooresville
, North Carolina
to a farming family, she demonstrated an early interest in art. Her parents insisted she study a more marketable profession, and she graduated from the St. Agnes Training School for Nurses in Raleigh
in 1924. She then moved to Harlem
, where she found work as a nurse. Burke continued sculpting in her free time, and grants in the late 1930s enabled her to study sculpture in Vienna and with Aristide Maillol
in Paris, culminating in her Master of Fine Arts degree from Columbia University
Burke was chosen to sculpt a portrait of then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt
in 1943. Completed in 1944, the 3.5-by-2.5-foot plaque
was unveiled in September 1945 at the Recorder of Deeds Building in Washington, D.C.
, where it still hangs today. Some historians, as well as Burke herself, believe this plaque served as John R. Sinnock
's inspiration for his obverse design on the Roosevelt dime
She was committed to teaching art to others, to that end she established the Selma Burke Art School in New York City
and opened the Selma Burke Art Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
At the age of 80, in 1980, Burke produced her last monumental work, a statue of Martin Luther King Jr.
that graces Marshall Park in Charlotte, North Carolina
Burke is an honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta
- Opitz, Glenn B , Editor, Mantle Fielding’s Dictionary of......