Jeannine Atkins's books include the newly released young adult novel in verse, Stone Mirrors: The Sculpture and Silence of Edmonia Lewis. From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:
Q: Why did you decide to focus on the sculptor Edmonia Lewis in your new book, and how did you research her life?--Marshal Zeringue
A: I came across the work and life story of Edmonia Lewis while researching another 19th century artist for Little Woman in Blue: A Novel of May Alcott, and couldn’t get her out of my mind.
Both women struggled making art in the 19th century, when many men expected women to confine their ambitions within homes.
Women might paint work to hang in parlors, but Edmonia Lewis chose to focus on sculpture, which requires expensive material and may take up space in a room or outdoors.
As someone whose father was Haitian and whose mother was Ojibwe, she also faced prejudice while beginning her career just after the Civil War, when some New Englanders were delighted that she meant to use her talents to make sculptures of abolitionists, freed slaves, and Native Americans, but others considered her too...[read on]