Government Drops a Dime on Burke

Selma-Burke.jpgEven though FDR (President Franklin Delano Roosevelt) posed for her so she could drop his image on the minted dime, the US government dropped her from the dime’s recognition. The portrait of Franklin Delano Roosevelt on the dime was created by Dr. Selma Burke, sculptor, dedicated teacher and winner of the 1943 competition sponsored by the Fine Arts Commission for the district of Columbia.  In 1944, President Roosevelt posed for the artist and her completed bronze plaque was unveiled by President Harry S. Truman in 1945. It can be seen at the Recorder of Deeds Building in Washington, D.C. Since the coin bears the initials of the engraver, John Sinnock, Selma Burke has never received proper credit for the portrait used on the dime. The-Roosevelt-Dime.jpgIn 1924, she moved to New York City and worked as a nurse.  By 1935, her accomplishments as an artist earned a Rosenwald Foundation Fellowship and in 1936, a Boehler Foundation Fellowship.  Both awards allowed her to travel to Europe where she studied ceramics with Povoleny in Vienna and sculpture with Maillol in Paris. She returned to New York and in 1941, completed a Master of Fine Arts degree at Columbia University.  At the age of 70, she completed a Doctorate in Arts and Letters at Livingstone College, Salisbury, North Carolina. Selma Burke was born in Mooresville, North Carolina in 1900. Although her interest in art was apparent at an early age, her mother insisted that she study for a profession.  She continued to develop as an artist during her education at Slater Industrial and State Normal School, now Winston-Salem State University; St. Agnes School of Nursing, Raleigh; and Women’s Medical College, Philadelphia.
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