Ann Weaver Norton (1905-1982) was an internationally known sculptor. She also wrote and illustrated three well-received children's books in an attempt to finance her art education. Weaver was born in 1905 in Selma, Dallas County, the daughter of William Minter Weaver II and Edith Vaughan Weaver. From an early age she showed an aptitude for art, receiving her first sculpting tool when she was eight.
In the early 1930s, reportedly in an attempt to earn enough money to attend art school, Weaver wrote and illustrated three children's books (Frawg, 1930; Boochy's Wings, 1931; Pappy King, 1932) while on vacation at "Emerald Place," her family's summer home near Sardis, in west Alabama. In her books, Weaver brings to life glimpses of everyday adventures of African-American children in the South. Her characters—like Frawg, Evvaleena, and Pappy King—do ingenious and entertaining things such as making lazy worms walk because they were too heavy for Frawg to carry in a bucket. Most of the children she featured in her books were representations of childhood friends, and Pappy King, for example, was an actual individual in Selma who loved flowers and children.
Weaver attended Smith College in Massachusetts, and in the early 1930s, she also studied at the National Academy of Design, the Art Students League, and the Cooper Union Art School in New York City, where she received the highest award given for sculpture. She was the recipient of two Carnegie Traveling Fellowships in 1935 and 1940. Her works were exhibited in New York at the Museum of Modern Art (1935) and the Whitney Museum of American Art (1940). Weaver moved to West Palm Beach, Florida, in 1942 to teach sculpture at the Norton Gallery and School of Art; she married Ralph H. Norton, founder of the school, in 1948. In Europe she had exhibitions at the Schneider Gallery in Rome (1960) and the Musée Rodin in Paris (1976).
Norton's best-known sculptures are brick-construction megaliths that she displayed at her home in West Palm Beach. She also worked on smaller sculptures chiseled from solid timbers. The grounds of her West Palm Beach home are now incorporated as the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens. More than 100 of her works are on display there, including eight of the brick megaliths and one in granite.
Norton died on February 2, 1982, in West Palm Beach, and her remains are interred in Live Oak Cemetery in Selma.
Works by Norton
Boochy's Wings (1931)
Pappy King (1932)
Eiland, William U. Ann Weaver Norton: Sculptor. West Palm Beach, Fla.: Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens Inc., 2000.
Marianne C. Hitchcock
Published August 9, 2009
Last updated February 5, 2013