Woman of the Century/Helen Rankin Copp
COPP, Mrs. Helen Rankin, sculptor, born in Atlanta, Logan county, Ill., 4th August, 1853. She is descended from Scotch and German ancestors, who took a leading part in freeing America from the British yoke and from the curse of slavery. HELEN RANKIN COPP. Her paternal grandfather, John Rankin, was one of the organizers of the Abolition movement. From her earliest childhood she dreamed of art. Stories and histories of artists were her favorite reading, and she tried to work out her dreams. It was weary labor, for the result was so far from her ideal. The few pictures the little country town afforded were but dreary disappointments. When she was five years old, her parents moved to Loda, Ill., where she passed her childhood and early womanhood. At the age of eighteen she attended the opening of the Chicago Exposition and for the first time saw a work 01 art. She returned home with renewed hope to the work of finding a way in the dark. In 1874 she became the wife of W. H. Copp, of Wolfboro, N. H., then engaged in the mercantile business in Loda. In 1884 they moved to Pullman, Ill., with one son, leaving four sons lying in the little prairie cemetery. The years of working in the dark were ended. In 1888 Mrs. Copp entered the Art Institute of Chicago. There she soon discovered that sculpture was her forte. Abandoning all thoughts of painting, she plunged into the study of modeling and anatomy with desperation born of the knowledge that half a lifetime was gone. Entering upon her work at an age when most artists begin to achieve success, she rapidly surmounted all difficulties, allowing herself no rest, even in vacation, and carrying off the honors of her class, until 1890, when she received the only medal ever given by the Art Institute for sculpture. Her instructor said that she had accomplished ten years' work in three. Mrs. Copp then established a studio in Chicago. She has modeled portraits of a number of prominent citizens of that city, besides many ideal works.