Edith Gilman French


Edith Gilman Parsons, the immensely talented daughter of Edith Barretto Parsons, like her mother studied at the Art Students’ League in New York City. Her classmates there nicknamed her “Mike,” for Michelangelo, as her ability was somewhat overwhelming. She concentrated on sculpture, modeling in clay, plaster, wood, and cloth, and in capturing gesture and mood. She was also keenly aware of the emotional connections between human and non-human animal behavior, often representing the almost bestial side of our actions. But she, like her mother, loved nature free of manipulation, its moods, its color, its power and nurturing. In two figures shown here we see some of the connections she found. The Vulture (see the “feathers” around the long neck, the “talons,” the old dead tree limbs) represents Humankind’s interest in the downfall of others, patiently waiting for the spoils. Mother Love shows the fierce protectiveness of a mother tiger (look for the “stripes” in the hair, the swish of the “tail”). Other figures show a gentler feeling.

In the 1940s she decided to give up art as a profession, and to devote herself to her family and community. Although many have described this decision as “a shame,” she defended it fiercely, saying that it was hers to make. Her surroundings, however, were always filled with her creativity and humor.