Elizabeth Catlett

Elizabeth Catlett (1915-2012 ) first became aware of the Mexican muralists and the concept of using art to educate people about social issues in college. While working on her Masters degree under regionalist Grant Wood, she began working with clay and wood, and took Wood's advice to look to her own people for inspiration. Catlett married a fellow WPA artist, Charles White. They studied in New York, and later took jobs at Hampton University in Virginia. Both shared an interest in black history, the Mexican muralists and the talents of African-Americans. Their presence at Hampton provided important role models for students. At this time, Catlett also met artist and activist Hale Woodruff. Their discussions empowered her and prepared her for a critical leadership role among black artists. She put these principals to work while teaching at the George Washington Carver School in Harlem. In 1946 Catlett won a Rosenwald fellowship which allowed her to study in Mexico. She worked with wood and ceramic sculpture, and began making prints in the Taller de Grafica Popular. In time, Catlett came to know all of Mexico's major artists, including Francisco Mora, whom she married after her divorce from Charles White. Catlett moved to Mexico, but did not escape the long arms of McCarthyism. She became a Mexican citizen, and the harassment stopped.

Other works by: Elizabeth Catlett Related exhibitions: