On Wednesday, February 1, 2017, the Google homepage honored Edmonia Lewis, the first woman of African-American and Native American heritage to achieve global recognition as a sculptor.
The Doodle depicts Lewis sculpting one of her most famous works, The Death of Cleopatra, which is on display at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. The sculpture was first revealed at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876. Lewis’s realistic portrayal of the Cleopatra’s death shocked viewers and received acclaim from critics, who called it “the most remarkable piece of sculpture in the American section" of the show.
The artist behind today's doodle is Sophie Diao. Sophie has been designing Google Doodles for the past three and a half years. She is a 2013 graduate of the California Institute of the Arts where she majored in Character Animation. As she has always been inspired by both journalism and American History, she combines both interests to create.
"I started by researching Edmonia Lewis' life story - how she got interested in sculpting and what her legacy was," says Diao. "The fact that she intentionally chose to sculpt powerful female figures was exciting to me. I really wanted to show her in the process of sculpting, emphasizing her small stature (she was only four feet tall!) and one of her most famous pieces, 'The Death of Cleopatra.' I chose this piece to highlight in particular not only because it's such a striking sculpture, but it depicts a female commander & Egyptian queen. I found her choice of subject matter extremely powerful. Her Native American name was "Wildfire," which I tried to incorporate by making the Google letters especially fiery."