Tomorrow and Tomorrow:
The Legacy of Selma Burke

Institute: Steele Hall Gallery Program
Collaborators: Students at Bennett College


Selma Burke was a renowned African-American sculptor who created the portrait of FDR on the Roosevelt Dime. Her sculpture of Mary McLeod Bethune in Bennett College’s permanent collection was used as a prompt to explore the life, legacy, and art- work of this incredible women.


Selma Burke Film
During the exhibition there was a projection of a video donated to Bennett College from the Mooresville Public Library. The video shows a fourth grader interviewing Selma Burke shortly before her death. Burke talks to the young women with an incredible gentleness and patience that sets the mood of the exhibition and perfectly illustrates what an incredible educator Selma Burke really was.


Selma Burke School of Sculpture
Selma Burke was a passionate supporter of figurative sculpture, so much so that she dedicated her life to teaching it. Her unwavering love of sculpture inspired her to open two di erent schools devot- ed to teaching this medium, the Selma Burke School of Sculpture in New York and the Selma Burke Art Center in Pittsburgh, PA. Burke wanted her students to understand the context for their art, how it reflected social issues, and how art could change the world and the direction of it.

To carry on her legacy, and to truly harness the spirit of this incredible artist, we re-opened the Selma Burke School of Sculpture here at Bennett College. Showcased here is student work that was created throughout the duration of the exhibition.

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During the one week course students learned how to realistically sculpt the human form from a live model. Students learned about basic anatomy, sculpting facial features, and the history of figurative sculpture. Guest artists attended during the week to teach different activities including charcoal drawing and blind contour exercises.

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Selma Burke Monument
Selma Burke created the relief sculpture of FDR on the dime. is piece was created to be a monument of Burke’s incredible legacy. On top of this structure are the Roosevelt dimes placed in succession from 1946 to 2015. We come across the dimes numerous times every single day. In this monument the dimes are mediated for the audience in order to experience them in a new light. ey are elevated on a pedestal for the public to see these objects as powerful pieces of art. As the years of the dimes rise from 1946, they climb higher and higher onto this solemn structure. ey rise into the future, mimicking how a legacy grows and carries on day by day, year by year. is monument lets us contemplate the power of an incredible African-American educator, sculptor, and pioneer.