This article originally appeared in Pennsylvania Heritage Magazine
Volume XXXVI, Number 1 - Winter 2010
Charles Edgar Patience (1906-1972), an African American sculptor who lived and worked in Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, took the carving of anthracite to an unprecedented level. While many miners in northeastern Pennsylvania sculpted small souvenirs in coal as a hobby, Patience raised the form to high art, exhibiting works at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. In 1954, the Reverend Leo F. Flood, the third president of King's College, Wilkes-Barre, commissioned Patience to create a two-ton anthracite altar for the college's chapel. The Pennsylvania Anthracite Heritage Museum in Scranton, Lackawanna County, exhibits sculpture by Patience, including busts of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, two of three presidential portraits he created during his lifetime.