In Memoriam: Elizabeth Catlett (1915-2012)

Elizabeth Catlett, the sculptor, printer, and educator, has died at her home in Cuernavaca, Mexico. She was 96 years old. Catlett’s work was political in nature and many of her pieces dealt with issues of race, ethnicity, and gender.

Elizabeth Catlett was the granddaughter of slaves. She was born in Washington, D.C., and earned a bachelor’s degree at Howard University and a master of fine arts degree at the University of Iowa. Her master’s degree project was the sculpture “Negro Mother and Child,” which won first prize at the 1940 Columbia Exposition in Chicago. After completing her master’s degree, she was named chair of the art department at Dillard University in New Orleans.

In the late 1940s, Catlett moved to Mexico. She was declared an “undesirable alien” by the U.S. government due to her left-leaning political agenda. Catlett became a Mexican citizen in 1962. From 1959 to her retirement in 1975, she chaired the sculpture department at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

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  1. Celeste Cunningham says:

    Saw her exposition at Chrysler Museum in Norfolk, Va. last year, sponsored by Friends of African American Art at Chrysler Museum. What a talent. What a legacy.

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