As a pioneer in the art of sculpture, Louise Berliawsky Nevelson (1899-1988) made her own world. Born in Kiev, Russia, she was a child when her family emigrated to Rockland, Maine.
"I adored my parents," she explained. "My mother was free-thinking and had strong socialist ideas. My father believed in equal rights for women."
"In the first grade, I already knew the pattern of my life," she explained. "I didn’t know the living of it, but I knew the line… From the first day in school until the day I graduated, everyone gave me one hundred plus in art. Well, where do you go in life? You go to the place where you got one hundred plus.”
Influenced by Cubism, African sculpture, Matisse, and Picasso, she is best known for arranging "boxes" into entire sculptural walls from pieces of wood, cast metal, and found objects. She usually painted these boxes black, the color she called "the essence of the universe."
Critics described her dramatic abstract art as having an air of mystery and structural importance. About her recycling of materials, she said, "I think what people call by the word 'scavenger' is really a resurrection."
Nevelson spent the first half of her life studying art and struggling for recognition. She was 40 before she had her first exhibit and in her 60s before her art supported her financially.
"I never feel age… if you have creative work, you don’t have age or time," she said.
Called the "Empress of Modern Art," she was known for fierce self-expression and claimed, "It's a hell of a thing to be born, and if you're born you're at least entitled to your own self."
Experiment: color outside the lines!