In Selma Burke’s Untitled (Woman and Child) the figures appear to materialize out of the wood, and the woman’s arm and child’s back merge to represent the closeness of their bond. Burke followed an African practice of selecting carving materials for their symbolic value, and chose to sculpt this scene in red oak, which embodies the strength of the figures’ relationship.


  • Title: Untitled (Woman and Child)
  • Creator: Selma Burke
  • Date Created: 1950
  • Physical Dimensions: 47 1/8 x 12 3/4 x 11 3/4 in. (119.6 x 32.3 x 29.8 cm)
  • Credit Line: Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of John A. Sakal and Terry L. Bengel in honor of Dr. Paul Albert Chew, Founding Director of the Westmoreland Museum of American Art, Greensburg, Pennsylvania
  • Artist: Born Mooresville, NC 1900 – Died New Hope, PA 1995
  • Medium: painted red oak

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