Norman A. Hughes, 1947-2016
Norman Hughes accomplished artist, sculptor and designer recognized worldwide for his authentic depiction of African American figurines, was born in Augusta, Georgia. He produced four lines of figurine collections; Positive Image, Colors of Life, Sankofa and Shades of Africa. Norman was one of the first African American sculptors to create realistic, uniquely detailed, African American figurines. He was commissioned to create busts of notable historians in bronze. Beside his accomplishment as a sculptor, he was a gifted artist, painting portraits and still life in oil.
After serving in the United States Navy, Norman received his Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University at Los Angeles. He remained in Los Angeles where he worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad as a clerk. Soon, he was offered an opportunity to freelance for a statuary business. While working for this business, he created a line called “Murphyville People.” They sold quite well, but when he created a little boy and girl of African American descent and called it Positive Image, it sold extremely well. The Positive Image line portrayed the subjects in activities that represented real life events for African Americans that were rarely illustrated by White artists. The Positive Image line became his bridge from dream to reality. .
Norman started a small business called “The Craft House” with a staff of four. His main objective was to convey style, detail, composition and subject matter for each piece that expressed itself in a new and positive light. With that idea in mind, he created the “Buffalo Soldier” his best-selling figurine. He soon created two limited edition series within The
Positive Image collection called “Black Legends,” and “Christmas Memories.” All together there were thirty-four figurine designs from the original Positive Image Collection. The Positive Image Line was well received by the public. The Mayor of Oakland, Ca. , Proclaimed it Norman Hughes day in October 1995.
Norman moved his growing business to Augusta, Georgia to be near his family. He established a factory and art gallery along Augusta’s Artists Row. An electrical fire destroyed the factory and he was not able to recover the business. His Positive Image Collection made from Hydro stone was retired. Soon thereafter, Norman was approached by Sarah’s Attic, to create a line of twelve designs, each limited to 5,797 pieces called, Colors of life. Many of the graceful characters in the multi-figure pieces wore flowing clothes and carried parasols.
The series was created to express dignity and love crafted from Resin. In a completely different style, Norman created the sleek, modern Sankofa line. This collection represented the African spirit. Sankofa is the name given to one of the many Adinka symbols used by the Ashanti people of West Africa. Sankofa means; “you must retrieve the knowledge of the past to prepare for the future.” Each stylized figurine displays the contrast between the dark color of the skin and off white color of the gowns embellished with patterns used by the Ashanti people. Norman worked for United Treasures, to create and design the Sankofa and Shades of Africa lines. Some of his figurine designs from Positive Image were re-produced by United Treasures until 2013, when he retired.
While teaching art classes at the Augusta VAMC, he met his beloved wife, Helen. The experience and challenge of teaching veterans drawing, painting and sculpting classes was very fulfilling for him. He also enjoyed cooking, good wine and great conversation.