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Elizabeth Catlett

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Information about Elizabeth Catlett

Profile image of Elizabeth Catlett

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
Printmaker
Art Professor
Sculptor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Watermelon
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall, Winter
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Cruises
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
4/15/1915
Birth Location:
Washington, District of Columbia

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
Printmaker
Art Professor
Sculptor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Watermelon
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall, Winter
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Cruises
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
4/15/1915
Birth Location:
Washington
See how Elizabeth Catlett is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Acclaimed printer maker and sculptor Elizabeth Catlett was born on April 15, 1915, in Washington, D.C. Growing up with grandparents who had been slaves, she was very aware of the injustices against black women. She attended Lucretia Mott Elementary School, Dunbar High School and then Howard University School of Art where she graduated cum laude in 1936. After she became the first student to earn an MFA degree in sculpture from the University of Iowa in 1940, she studied ceramics at the Art Institute of Chicago and later in New York she studied lithography at the Art Students League.

In 1946, Catlett accepted an invitation to work in Mexico City’s Taller de Grafica Popular, a collective graphic arts and mural workshop. There she cultivated the theme for her work, the African American woman. In 1947, she produced her first major show “I am a Negro Woman,” a series of sculptures, prints, and paintings through a Julius Rosenwald Foundation fellowship, which toured black women’s colleges in the South. That same year she married Mexican painter Francisco Mora. A lively community of artists surrounded her and Mora, including Diego Rivera and his wife Frida Kahlo. From 1958 through 1976, she directed the sculpture department at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico.

In 1993, Catlett received her first New York City exhibition since 1971 and in 1998 the Neuberger Museum of Art in Purchase, New York honored her with a fifty year retrospective. Her paintings and sculptures were in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum, in New York, the Baltimore Museum of Art and the New Orleans Museum of Art.

Catlett passed away on April 4, 2012 at age 96.

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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Elizabeth Catlett
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Elizabeth Catlett's favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Elizabeth Catlett talks about her mother's background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Elizabeth Catlett talks about her father's background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Elizabeh Catlett remembers her ancestors
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Elizabeth Catlett recalls her childhood in Washington D.C. in the 1920s
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Elizabeth Catlett reminisces on summers in North Carolina
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Elizabeth Catlett describes her extended family in Lincolnton, North Carolina
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Elizabeth Catlett shares childhood holiday memories
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Elizabeth Catlett remembers Lucretia Mott elementary school in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Elizabeth Catlett recalls the Washington D.C. neighborhood of her youth
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Elizabeth Catlett remembers role models from elementary and high school
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Elizabeth Catlett explains her family's thriftiness
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Elizabeth Catlett details her transition into college
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Elizabeth Catlett recalls her high school involvement in swimming
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Elizabeth Catlett describes her early desire to pursue art
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Elizabeth Catlett recalls her uncle's troubled life
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Elizabeth Catlett reminisces about her brother's life and early death
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Elizabeth Catlett remembers her relationship with her brother
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Elizabeth Catlett comments on role models of her youth
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Elizabeth Catlett describes the great personality differences between her sister Sara and herself
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Elizabeth Catlett reflects on her sister's life
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Elizabeth Catlett describes life in Washington D.C. in the 1920s
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Elizabeth Catlett discusses key memories from Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, Washington D.C.
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Elizabeth Catlett comments on her study of black history
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Elizabeth Catlett details her experiences as an undergraduate in Howard University's art department
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Elizabeth Catlett describes color-consiousness in Delta Sigma Theta sorority
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Elizabeth Catlett dispels myths of Lois Mailou Jones influence on her art
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Elizabeth Catlett describes campus life at Howard University on the cusp of WWII
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Elizabeth Catlett discusses her scholarly pursuits at Howard University
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Elizabeth Catlett remembers studying under E. Franklin Frazier
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Elizabeth Catlett describes a menial job she held after college
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Elizabeth Catlett explains her involvement in protesting racial inequality in black teachers pay
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Elizabeth Catlett gives reasons she wanted to leave Durham, North Carolina, part I
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Elizabeth Catlett describes why she left Durham, North Carolina, part II
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Elizabeth Catlett details her successes as a teacher
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Elizabeth Catlett explains her decision to attend University of Iowa
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Elizabeth Catlett reminsces about graduate life at the University of Iowa
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Elizabeth Catlett remembers her artistic influences at University of Iowa
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Elizabeth Catlett discuses her battles against a racist administrator at the University of Iowa
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Elizabeth Catlett recalls her most influential teacher, Grant Wood