Famed sculptor, Selma Hortense Burke was born on December 31, 1900 in Mooresville, NC. Burke is regarded as one of America’s best known sculptors. One of her most important works was a plaque in 1945 of President Franklin D. Roosevelt for the Register of Deeds building in Washington, DC, where it’s still on display today.
Her initial college degree came in 1922 with a BA from Slater Industrial and State Normal School (now Winston Salem State University), in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Burke began her career as a nurse after graduating from the St. Agnes Training School for Nurses of St. Augustine’s College (now St. Augustine’s University) Raleigh, NC in 1924. She began work as a nurse in Harlem, New York. It was in New York that she began to transition over to the profession of art. She studied her craft in Europe and received a Masters in Fine Arts Degree from Columbia University in 1941. Burke not only used her talents to create art but also to teach others how to become artists. She founded the Selma Burke School of Sculpture in New York and the Selma Burke Art Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1970 she received her doctorate degree from Livingston College in Salisbury, North Carolina. Burke died on August 29, 1995 at age 94 near New Hope, Pennsylvania.