Alice Morgan Wright: The Connection Between Art & Activism

The Fist, Alice Morgan Wright, 1921, Painted plaster, 34 H x 17 W x 17 D, gift of Elinor Wright (Mrs. Clark) Fleming, cousin of the artist, 1978.21.2

Alice Morgan Wright (1881-1975) was the most important early-twentieth-century artist to have lived most of her life in Albany. Her early works were influenced by Auguste Rodin, and later she incorporated elements of Cubism and Futurism into her art. She worked slowly and moved back and forth from a conservative style to modernist works such as The Fist that established Wright's significance as one of the few Americans doing abstract sculpture in the first decades of the century. The Fist was completed and exhibited in 1921, the year after American women won the right to vote. It is likely that the clenched fist symbolizes the militant struggle for women's rights in which Wright had been passionately engaged for nearly two decades.

Reflection on Alice Morgan Wright by Junior Interpreter Maya

Trojan Women, Alice Morgan Wright (1881-1975), 1927, painted bronze, 23 H x 12 W x 22 D, gift of Elinor Wright (Mrs. Clark) Fleming, cousin of the artist, 1978.21.3

One of our Junior Interpreters, Maya, shares this reflection on Alice Morgan Wright:

"What drew me to Alice Morgan Wright, besides her art work, was her activism. Her determination to create in the face of prejudice is inspiring. While sentenced to hard labour in England for smashing windows in the name of suffrage, she didn’t cease to create, but used her situation as inspiration for her art. In the US, as a member of the New York Women’s Suffrage Party, she organized a group of 3,500 women to show President Wilson a petition, signed by over one million women hoping to soon participate in American democracy. Wright made art in support of suffrage, including donating sculptures. She also worked for the expansion of women’s suffrage, advocating for international women’s suffrage and helping to educate woman on how to exercise their new responsibility. Wright would eventually also work for the humane treatment of animals, members of society who, without help, are unable to have a voice.

While I was unaware of Alice Morgan Wright until I began to research her piece Trojan Women, she has quickly become a woman whose work and dedication I respect, and who I admire. When I first saw Trojan Women, I saw the image of Helen as helpless, arms spread and without protection, one in a group of many helpless and weary figures. After researching Wright, I see her as martyr, a defender of those behind her unaware of what’s to come."

Alice Morgan Wright: The Connection Between Art & Activism

March 2020: Our tour team is working from home and experimenting with ways to bring presentations to you while the museum is closed. We hope you enjoy this brief look at the life of Albany artist and activist Alice Morgan Wright! Originally planned to be given as an in-person presentation, they have converted it to a short video.