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Abilene Morning Reporter News (Newspaper) - May 8, 1927, Abilene, Texas I Became a Model to Help My Race/ Says Negro Made Famous by Artists Maurice Hunter inspired by Lofty Aim Maurice Hunter, famous negro art mode!, in two photographic illustrations, “In Chains” and "Araby the Blest" posed by A. Broody «*• # By Frieda Wyandt THE negro race has found another interpreter of its genius in its own ranks. But he is an inarticulate interpreter — inarticulate but expressive. Within the last few years/ the world has realized the emotional and artistic contribution which the black race lias given it. Negro spirituals have been sung from one end of our country to the other. Negro singers themselves have risen from the comedy class to that of real artistry. Men like Roland Hayes and Baul Robeson have fought t heir way to recognition through their voices. The Voice of Ills People Ami now Maurice Hunter has given his bit toward a greater understanding of his people*. Sot that he talks much about Ins race. I imagine that he said more to ase about his people and what they dream about and think about than he has said about them for years. But he has found another way ‘if telling the white world that his race has emotion and fire and understanding of human nature. For Maurice Hunter la an artist’s model who takes his job : •'rtously. You wiU soc his face In dozens of different advertisements md magazine Illustrations. His tnwly, which is said by artists for •rn horn he po*es to be physically perfect, has served as the model for sculpture, for murals and pictures of savages. live* la*-Ii Role lie is leaving his mark on the art of the present day, is helping to shape the idea which the public has of his race, for in his mobile face and the dramatic use which he makes of every gesture he has that power of expression which is denied him in speech. His face can catch—and hold for the artist through unbelievably long hours of nosing—that particular phase of the negro or of the savage life which is to be put on canvas or between the covers of a magasine. One minute he may be a pirate, and when he stands before an artist dressed In a pirate’s gaudy tatters, Maurice Hunter Is a pirate. Ile known it. He can feel it inside himself that he Is a pirate. and his face and every line or His body shows that for the moment, at Ik.. % a pirate stands thers. Or again he may be called upon to show the greedy bargaining instinct of the Moorish bazaar, and his eyes look out with that insatiable desire for gold which lives along the roast of Atrial—and even In New York. Aspires to Perfection “You see," he explained, “when they tell me that I’m to be angry or happy or sad I try to fee! that way. I’m interested in my work. I want to make It better and better, and the only way I can is to feel what the artist wants. “Sometimes, even, I can help him with suggestions. Sometimes he has only a hazy idea of what he wants me to do. and I can try different poses that may suggest something for him." And as he explained this to me he pointed to some of the photographs which had been talced of himself, and as he did so his face took on the expression in the picture. V done was the diffident negro who was trying to tell why he liked to be a model, and in his place was a tall figure which mirrored the suffering of generations of slavery. A moment later it was a craps game, with an enthusiastic and very boyish negro begging the “elebbens” to come. (■lad to Uplift Hare He was proud of tho fact that artists have called him the foremost negro mods! rn£ the world, proud of the fact Hat they treat him as one of themselves. And it is not alone because this is rn personal triumph that he Is proud. He Is glad for the sake of his race that he has risen high in his chosen work. “We only want a chance to do our work,” he said, “We don’t ask much else, those of us who are thinking about our race and Its future. We know that right now we are just beginning. We haven’t gone very far, but we do think that we have something to offer the world, and we want the chance to offer it. “Of course, I can’t do much. I Just do my work as artistically as I can. and as well as I can. If this helps to put my race over In a better light it makes me very happy, RxpresM’s Aims in Poses “If I can make people realize that my race is artistic, that we can understand artistic things. I’ll feel that I've done a lot. Because right now the artistic is the main thing that we have to give the world. We haven’t done very much in actual painting, but we do have a feeling for line and color, and if I cai* help an artist show this, lf I can help him catch that emotional play and change which make up the temperament of npr people, I U fee! that I ve done something for the artistic expression of the negro race. “I can’t paint, I can’t talk very much, but I can feel, and all The artists say th^t I can show this when I pose. I know how an old man feels, but I couldn’t explain it to any one. All I can do la to show it In my face or in the way I stand. “That's what I like about my work. It's like making tableaux, and that’s another thing I like to do. I sort of feel that I’m giving the artist something, that I’m acting a play for him, only I don’t have to say any lines ’* How He Started It was almost by accident that nine years ago Maurice Hunter stumbled onto his profession. He really didnt intend to be an artist's model; in fact, that was farthest from his thoughts. He had always had an artistic .‘'Lint, and he must have had an understanding slant, but it had never had a chance for expression. His boyhood was spent in Dutch Guiana, where he worked in the mines. And then he came to America, and did most of the things that negro immigrants do to make a living. He was a waiter for a while, and then he tried running an elevator. It was while he was an elevator boy that a young negro woman started him on hb career. She was posing for artists herself. and she noticed the way the tall young negro dramatized everything that he did. It is no unusual thing in their race, this putting into gesture and facial expression the things that do not come too easily in words, but she felt that Hunter was wasting this talent as an up-and-down engineer. So she persuaded him to apply for a job as model. Likes His Work “It wasn’t easy,” he explained, "to get to the place where they all wanted me to pose for them. I had to learn my profession, and It was slow at first, but I liked it from the beginning, and maybe that’s why people seem to think I've done well at It.” Gradually he became known throughout the artist world as a model who would help out, who, as one artist expressed It, “didn t slump like a lump of clay when he got on the studio platform. * It would be impossible for him to slump. For slumping would mean that he was losing Interest in his work, a work which he takes as seriously as the artist takes his painting. Slumping would mean that he no longer felt that he was helping make the picture, that he was adding his own artistry to that of the painter or the sculptor. • If he slumped it would be a reflection upon his professional standing, and it would Indirectly be a reflection upon hi* race. For his is the chance to make good for his race in interpreting his race for the world, and the tall. shy negro from Guiana will never let that happen. Hired by Noted Artists Charles Dana Gibson has used Hunter in his illustrations, so have Dean Cornwall, Dealt os Valentine and Frank Goodwin. Frank Leyendecker used him In auto advertisements. Margaret Metzger Vandercook made him the original "TonwTam” in the illustration which she painted for her husband. John Vandercook^ book “Tom-Tom.” Perhaps he Is proudest of the way he has made the characters of fiction that are dear ta ooy-hood live. Mead Schaffer us.*d nim for hi* illustrations for Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick’* and **Typee,” and Frank Goodwin as Friday in “Robinson Crusoe.” “You knew the story of Moby Disk.’’ he said, his eyes lighting up. et though he were claiming kinship w rh Melville in his »*re-ation of this story of whales and the South Seas. And It is ibis feeling of helper to create the figure that Is to live on the canvas which Tt~m rhanged Hunter’s work from a Job to an artistic profession. And It is this same feeling which, probably almost wholly unconsciously, I* helping him to add to the world * knowledge of the emotional life of his race.
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