Perkins, Marion

Perkins, Marion

(1908–61) sculptor; born in Marche, Ark. His parents died when he was young and he was raised by an aunt in Chicago. He worked as a janitor, dishwasher, and postal worker before discovering his passion for sculpture in the late 1930s. Largely self-taught, he was inspired by African art. His best-known work, Man of Sorrows (1950), depicted a black Christ. Although such works as John Henry (1943) and Ethiopia Awaking (1948) brought him some reputation, he was unable to earn a living from his art, and he worked as a freight handler to support his family.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.