Searching for Augusta Savage: Screening and Panel

Wednesday, April 24, 2024, 6:30 - 8pm

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Searching for Augusta Savage, a new documentary about the acclaimed Harlem Renaissance sculptor, art educator, and The Cooper Union School of Art alumna, screens as part of the Gardiner Foundation Great Hall Forum series. Following the screening, the film’s creators, Charlotte Mangin and Sandra Rattley of Audacious Women Productions, are joined by curators Jeffreen M. Hayes, Ph.D., and Tammi Lawson for a conversation about Savage’s life and work, including why many of her works of art have been lost or destroyed and why evidence of her accomplishments appears to have been erased. 

Savage, who graduated from The Cooper Union in 1925, finished her degree in just three years. She opened the first gallery in the U.S. dedicated to exhibiting the work of Black artists and founded two organizations that provided free art education and training to over 2,500 people, mentoring a generation of venerated artists such as Romare Bearden, Gwendolyn Knight, and Jacob Lawrence. 

The documentary is part of American Masters Shorts, a new PBS digital-first documentary short series.

Registration required. Please note this free in-person event is first-come-first-served, and an RSVP does not guarantee admission.  



About the Panelists: 

Audacious Women Productions is a women-led documentary film production company founded in 2022 by Sandra Rattley and Charlotte Mangin to tell little-known stories through innovative multimedia projects. In 2020 they received the Eva Haller Women Transforming Media Award for their work on UNLADYLIKE2020, a series of short films and a one-hour documentary honoring the centennial of women’s suffrage that premiered on PBS's American Masters about unsung women who changed America at the turn of the 20th century. Together, they produced, directed, and wrote Searching for Augusta Savage. Rattley also produced Peabody award-winning documentaries and was the former vice president for cultural programming at NPR where she launched the weekly show, Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me. Mangin, who was nominated for four Emmy Awards, has previously worked at National Geographic Television & Film and WNET-Channel 13. 

Jeffreen M. Hayes, Ph.D., is the curator of the exhibition Augusta Savage: Renaissance Woman and executive director of the non-profit ThreeWalls that fosters contemporary and socially-engaged art practices that respond to lived experiences. She serves as host and narrator of Searching for Augusta Savage. Dr. Hayes also speaks and writes about art history, Black art, and arts activism. Her writing can be found in several independent online print art publications as well as edited museum publications. Some of her books include Augusta Savage: Renaissance Woman, AfriCOBRA: Messages to the People, and Etched in Collective History. She earned a Ph.D. in American Studies from the College of William and Mary, an M.A. in art history from Howard University, and a B.A. from Florida International University in humanities. 

Tammi Lawson is curator of the Art and Artifacts Division at The New York Public Library’s renowned Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, which was launched in 1925 at the 135th Street Library and was the first location where Augusta Savage provided free arts classes during the Harlem Renaissance. Lawson is a featured voice in the Searching for Augusta Savage documentary. The Collection she oversees houses approximately 15,000 works of fine art and artifacts dating back to the 17th century that reflect the history and expressive culture of the African Diaspora, including the largest collection of artworks by Augusta Savage in a public institution. Lawson collaborated with poet Marilyn Nelson on a Young Adult book, Augusta Savage, the Shape of a Sculptor’s Life. The New York Public Library awarded Lawson the Bertha Franklin Feder Award for Excellence in Librarianship. She holds a B.A. from the College of Staten Island and a master’s degree in information and library sciences from Queens College.


Located in The Great Hall, in the Foundation Building, 7 East 7th Street, between Third and Fourth Avenues

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.