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(1845 - 1900?) first African American artist acknowledged as a sculptor
Lewis was inspired by the lives of abolitionists and Civil War heroes. She met Union Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, the commander of an African American Civil War regiment from Massachusetts. She was inspired to create a bust of his likeness, which impressed the Shaw family, who purchased her homage. The poet Anna Quincy Waterston was inspired to write a poem about both Lewis and Shaw.
Early works that proved highly popular included medallion portraits of the abolitionists John Brown and William Lloyd Garrison. Lewis also drew inspiration from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and his work, particularly his epic poem, The Song of Hiawatha.