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Sculpting a life

New stamp honors Edmonia Lewis

The Edmonia Lewis stamp is based on a portrait painted sometime between 1864 and 1871.

A stamp honoring 19th-century sculptor Edmonia Lewis — the 45th in the Black Heritage series — will be released Jan. 26.

Lewis, the first African American and Native American sculptor to earn international recognition, challenged social barriers and assumptions about artists in mid-19th-century America.

Born in Greenbush, NY, in 1844, she spent most of her career in Rome, where her studio became a must-see attraction for American tourists.

In addition to portrait busts of prominent people, Lewis’s work incorporated African American themes, including the celebration of newly won freedoms, and sensitively depicted her Native American heritage as peaceful and dignified.

A Roman Catholic, Lewis also received several religious commissions.

The work she produced during her prolific career evokes the complexity of her social identity and reflects the passion and independence of her artistic vision.

The image on the stamp is based on a portrait painted by Augustus Marshall in Boston sometime between 1864 and 1871. Antonio Alcalá was art director, with artwork by Alex Bostic.

The Edmonia Lewis stamp will be available in Post Offices nationwide and at