San Diegan sculptor, Manuelita Brown, visits CSUSM


Courtesy of Iris Lee

Manuelita Brown and her husband, Willie Brown on Nov. 20.

Adrianna Adame, News Reporter

Manuelita Brown says on her website that her goal as an artist is to “edify and give expression to the human spirit, and to convey the strength, character and beauty of her own people, the descendants of African survivors in the Americas.”


The San Diego sculptor came to CSUSM to discuss her experience as an artist on Nov. 20.

Staircase Exhibition, a CSUSM visual arts organization, hosted the event titled Meet Manuelita Brown.


Brown began her presentation by showing the auditorium of students in Arts Hall 111 pictures of her family and some of her sculptures. Many of her sculptures are modeled after the pictures of her family members that she showed the audience.


According to Brown, “While nothing in my genetics destined me to become an artist, my family’s influence definitely did.” Her family highly encouraged education and music, which the artist said eventually lead her to pursue the arts.


Brown, a former math teacher at Torrey Pines High School, talked about how throughout her life she was busy balancing her role as an educator, wife, mother and artist. She mentioned how at times she had to set sculpting aside so that she could take care of other priorities in her life, like raising her two sons. Eventually, she was able to get back into sculpting after her sons grew up.


The sculptor’s most notable works consist of female African-American figures, some which are famous historical figures. One of her most famous works, Sojourner Truth, is a six-foot-tall bronze sculpture modeled after the abolitionist and women’s rights activist of the same name.

The sculpture is worth $65,000 that now stands at the Thurgood Marshall College Campus at UCSD.


Brown said that eventually, “I would like to do one [a sculpture], a historical figure, of Harriet Tubman” a 19th Century abolitionist involved in the creation of the Underground Railroad, to show the contrast of both Truth and Tubman; two women with similar goals.


In the Q&A session, when asked about how she got into sculpting, Brown responded saying “…I negotiated the world through shape and touch.” As a child, Brown had poor vision but didn’t wear glasses, which pushed her to see the world through touch.


In Brown’s art, she uses her family, time as an educator and knowledge for inspiration. Brown said that “I’ve learned in finding a solution to something, use everything in your background.”


Iris Lee, the president of Staircase Exhibition, said that she and the vice president Kimberley Lopez, “thought that it would be a great opportunity to have Brown visit CSUSM so that she may be able to talk about her experiences as an artist and sculptor.” They decided this after Lopez visited Brown’s studio, Tsahai Studio located in Encinitas, CA..


Brown’s work can be found at