Saturday, June 1, 2013

A Pioneer in African American Women's Art




Elizabeth was born in Washington D.C. and educated at Howard University.  She lived grew up in D.C.  and she was the daughter of two teachers,  Her first marriage was brief and she later married Francisco and moved to Mexico to live the rest of her life.
I have been captivated by her for a long time.  For one thing I noticed her birthday was only a few days from mine and she seemed to be an eternally positive person.  Her work seemed so progressive at the time and she has bee a tremendous role model for all women artists.  She is a strong independent and courageous woman.

Elizabeth Catlett figurative sculpture          from google for educational purposed only

"Acclaimed for her figurative sculptures and lithographs, Elizabeth Catlett has been one of the most prominent black artists of the last 50 years. Known for her technical accomplishment, Catlett specializes in realistic art that shows her concern for preserving black cultural traditions, especially as represented in the lives of everyday, working-class people. Since the 1940s she has worked according to her belief that art should be for the benefit of all people, and not for what she termed "the exclusive domain of the elect" in The Art of Elizabeth Catlett. This objective has forged for her a cultural relationship with the country of Mexico, where she moved in the mid-1940s and of which she became a citizen in 1962. "Neither the masses of black people nor Mexican people have the time or the money to develop formal aesthetic appreciation," Catlett remarked in Ebony. "And so I try to reach them intuitively because they have an intuitive appreciation, and thus help, if I can, their aesthetic development."
Catlett has made her reputation particularly by depicting themes related to black women, especially the bonds of maternal love. She has also concentrated on portraying figures of black history, such as Malcolm X, Harriet Tubman, and Phillis Wheatley, as well as other prominent blacks like musician Louis Armstrong. "I have always wanted my art to service Black people--to reflect us, to relate to us, to stimulate us, to make us aware of our potential," she commented to Samella Lewis in Art: African American. "Learning how to do this and passing that learning on to other people have been my goals." Catlett embraced her role as a black artist in the early 1940s when a position as an adult-education teacher inspired her to use art as a vehicle to teach blacks about their culture. "Up until then I guess I didn't have any artist's philosophy about what I was doing and why, except that I was working with Black subject matter," she told Stephanie Stokes Oliver in Essence. "But then I realized that I had to work for every kind of Black people."

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