Selma Burke

born Mooresville, NC 1900-died New Hope, PA 1995
Media - J0100405_1b.jpg - 89783
Selma Burke in her studio, © Peter A. Juley & Son Collection, Smithsonian American Art Museum J0100405
Also known as
  • Selma Hortense Burke
  • Dr. Selma Burke
Mooresville, North Carolina, United States
New Hope, Pennsylvania, United States
Active in
  • New York, New York, United States
  • American

Sculptor and educator who received national recognition for her relief portrait of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, which was the model for his image on the dime. Committed to teaching art to others, Burke established the Selma Burke Art School in New York City in 1946 and subsequently opened the Selma Burke Art Center in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Joan Stahl American Artists in Photographic Portraits from the Peter A. Juley & Son Collection (Washington, D.C. and Mineola, New York: National Museum of American Art and Dover Publications, Inc., 1995)

Luce Artist Biography

Selma Burke was one of ten children born to a Methodist minister in rural North Carolina. When she was a child, Selma would mold the soft clay of the riverbanks into small figures. In the 1920s, Burke became one of the few African American women to achieve fame during the Harlem Renaissance, which brought many black male artists and writers to the nation's attention. She later taught at the Harlem Community Art Center and founded the Selma Burke Art School in New York City and the Selma Burke Art Center in Pittsburgh. Burke is most famous for her 1944 relief Franklin Delano Roosevelt, which inspired the Roosevelt dime.