Monday, April 14, 2014

Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller

I remember seeing an exhibition about her at the Danforth museum, and I think it may be a good idea to talk a little bit about her.

Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller (1877-1968) was primarily a sculptor. She's now regarded as a precursor of the Harlem Renaissance movement.

Meta was born in Philadelphia in 1877. After graduating from the "Pennsylvania Museum and School for Industrial Art" in 1897, she went abroad to further her studies and craft. She stayed in Paris for a while (1899-1902) where her mentor was no other than the great Auguste Rodin. Apparently, she was not a student of his but he kinda kept an helpful eye on her, being quite enamored by her works. She came back to Philadelphia, her home city, to open her own studio. In 1909, she married Dr. Solomon Carter Fuller (born in Liberia), a noted neurologist and psychiatrist, and that's how she ended up in Framingham (At the time, the good doctor actually lived at the Westborough Hospital.) In 1910, Meta lost 16 years of work (and her tools) when a fire destroyed the warehouse that housed all her art stuff in Philly (16 years of work). That (material) tragedy put her art career on hold for a while although I am sure her family life at home kept her quite busy. It took about three years for Meta to produce more art. "Spirit of Emancipation" is the piece that brought her back to the art scene (1913). This sculpture can be seen in Harriet Tubman Park in the South End. Up until 1929, she had set up space in the attic of the family home. Upon growing concerns (from her own husband) that the space was not adequate health-wise, she opened a new studio on the shore of Learned Pond, at 135 Warren Road, not too far from the couple's house (and their three children) located at 31 Warren Road. She contracted tuberculosis in 1953, the year her husband died, but recovered after two years of confinement in a sanatorium in Waltham.

She was named after the daughter of Senator Richard Vaux (Meta Vaux), a customer of her mom who owned a hair-dressing parlor. In the 1960s, she sculpted a bronze plaque depicting a doctor and two nurses which is supposed to be at the Framingham Union Hospital (It should still be there.)

The Fuller house (Solomon Carter Fuller and Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller) at 31 Warren Rd, Framingham, MA. Well, it's the right address but I would like to have confirmation that it's the right house. According to Zillow (Framingham), it was built in 1909, which is right on the money.

135 Warren Rd where Meta's studio was supposed to be. According to Zillow, the house on that plot was built in 1930, so that must be it.

A little bit closer to the building at 135 Warren Rd. Looks like a Tudor style house.

Aerial view of the area around 135 Warren Rd. Meta's old studio should be right below the marker.

If you want to learn a lot more about Meta, I suggest reading the Meta Fuller catalog (1984-85) from an exhibition at Danforth during the 1984-85 season. The exhibition I saw at Danforth was in 2008-09 (It was called "Meta Warrick Fuller, Sculptures from the studio".)

If you have info, photos, stories, etc, concerning Meta Warrick Fuller, I would love to see them and I'd be more happy to publish them here (If you let me do so.)


  1. Yes, the pictured house at 31 Warren Rd is the former home of Meta Fuller, and the house at 135 Warren is her former studio.