Elizabeth Catlett, born in Washington D.C. in 1919, is a master sculptor, painter, printmaker, activist, and warrior. Throughout her long life, she has demonstrated a commitment to fighting injustice through her work and showing her support in the struggle for equality for the poor and oppressed. For this, we honor her here atPersimmon Tree.
Regarded as a significant 20th century artist, Catlett’s work reveals her complex character, pride, gentleness, and brilliance. Many of her graphic works express her great interest in the issues of race and ethnicity and in issues involving women.
As a young woman, Catlett attended Howard University, where she studied design, printmaking and drawing. In 1940 she became the first student to receive a Master’s degree in sculpture at the University of Iowa. In 1946 she received a fellowship that allowed her to travel to Mexico City, where she studied. She worked there with the People’s Graphic Arts Workshop, a group of printmakers dedicated to using their art to promote social change. After settling in Mexico and later becoming a Mexican citizen, she taught sculpture at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City until retiring in 1975. Since then, she has continued her involvement in the Cuernavaca, Mexico, art community.
Note: Thanks to the M. Lee Stone Fine Prints Gallery for the images below. At the end of the images is a YouTube clip that shows Elizabeth Catlett at work.