Elizabeth Catlett

1915 - 2012

Elizabeth Catlett, born as Alice Elizabeth Catlett, also known as Elizabeth Catlett Mora (April 15, 1915 – April 2, 2012) was an African American sculptor and graphic artist best known for her depictions of the Black-American experience in the 20th century, which often focused on the female experience. She was born and raised in Washington, D.C., to parents working in education, and was the grandchild of formerly enslaved people. It was difficult for a black woman at this time to pursue a career as a working artist. Catlett devoted much of her career to teaching. However, a fellowship awarded to her in 1946 allowed her to travel to Mexico City, where she worked with the Taller de Gráfica Popular for twenty years and became head of the sculpture department for the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas. In the 1950s, her main means of artistic expression shifted from print to sculpture, though she never gave up the former. Her work is a mixture of abstract and figurative in the Modernist tradition, with influence from African and Mexican art traditions. Catlett's work can be described as social realism, because of her dedication to the issues and experiences of African Americans. According to the artist, the main purpose of her work is to convey social messages rather than pure aesthetics. Her work is heavily studied by art students looking to depict race, gender and class issues. During her lifetime, Catlett received many awards and recognitions, including membership in the Salón de la Plástica Mexicana, the Art Institute of Chicago Legends and Legacy Award, honorary doctorates from Pace University and Carnegie Mellon, and the International Sculpture Center's Lifetime Achievement Award in contemporary sculpture. Source: Wikipedia (en)

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