Artist as Activist: Politically Charged and Aesthetically Compelling
Elizabeth Catlett Visual Arts Exhibitions
About Elizabeth Catlett
Elizabeth Catlett (1915 -2012) was a revolutionary artist of the people working in sculpture and the graphic arts. She is best known for her depictions of the Black-American experience in the 20th century, which often focused on the Black female experience. Catlett valued printed materials for their affordability, distributability, and accessibility to the masses. Remarkably, Catlett remained a working artist well into her 90s.
Catlett studied design, printmaking, and drawing at the prestigious Howard University. To escape Jim Crow laws prohibiting her from a flourishing career in the arts, she moved to Mexico in 1946. Her influences include the art theories of Alain Locke and James A. Porter and the social activism of Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. Her most notable sculptural works include Homage to My Young Black Sisters (1968) and various mother-child pairings, the latter of which was one of her central artistic themes. Catlett alternately chose to illustrate famous subjects, such as Harriet Tubman and Malcolm X, and anonymous workers—notably, strong, solitary black women—as depicted in the terra-cotta sculpture Tired (1946). Other notable works include the linocuts Sharecropper (1968) and Survivor (1983) and the lithograph Negro es bello (1968; “Black Is Beautiful”).