Born near Frankfort, OH on November 11, 1895, Beulah Ecton moved to Los Angeles with her family in 1903 and settled in what is now the city of Vernon. The youngest daughter in her family, of all the family's visitors, the one who impacted her the most was a native African she met when she was age twelve.
While at Polytechnic High School, she began to show interest in sculpture. Ecton developed her craft further with course at the Los Angeles Art School, the Otis Art Institute, and the University of Southern California. Felix Piano, David Edstrom, Glen Lukens, and Prince Troubesky tutored her.
After her marriage to Brady Woodard, she improvised a studio in the rear of her home. A specialist in African subjects, her media included clay, plaster, wood, copper, metal, oils, and papier-maché.
Her earliest work published occurred via a column in the California News along with displays in the office window of the publication. Soon after this, she was invited to show her works for display at the Vernon Branch Library and the Los Angeles Central Library downtown. This led to a one-person show in 1935 at the Los Angeles County Museum, (she was the first Black to be honored there).
Perhaps her most famous sculpture was Maudelle, 1937. The model, Maudelle Bass Weston (1908-1989), was a well known African American concert dancer, the first to study under the choreographer Lester Horton. She danced with the American Ballet Therater in Agnes de Mille's ballet Black Ritual in 1940 and she appeared with the dancer and choreographer Pearl Primus in the 1950s. As a model, she also posed for Diego Riversa, Edward Weston and Weegee. Maudelle was acquired by the Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Missouri-Columbia .
Beulah's popularity as a lecturer grew throughout Southern California from institutions ranging from elementary to university graduate schools. Woodard won a number of awards including the third All-City Art Festival in 1953.
Despite her full schedule, Woodard always found time to support community causes and promote other artist. She was an important organizer of both the Los Angeles Negro Art Association in 1937, and the Eleven Associated Artist Gallery in 1950.
Prior to what was perhaps to be her most notable exhibition, a number of German museums, Beulah Woodard died at the age of 59, on July 13, 1955, in Los Angeles.
Compiled from www.anothershadeofcolor.com, http://www.askart.com, and http://maa.missouri.edu/news/newsrelease-maudelle.html.