Born April 15, 1919 in Washington, DC
Internationally acclaimed artist; painter, sculptor and printmaker
Acclaimed for her abstract sculptures, prints, and paintings, Elizabeth Catlett is one of the most prominent artists of the twentieth century. Her expansive collection of work reflects her commitment to the preservation of African American cultural traditions and the depiction of the lives of everyday, working-class people. The celebration of strong black women and mothers is also a consistent theme throughout her art, evident in her sculptures such as “Homage to My Young Black Sisters” (1968) and various mother-child pairings.
Catlett’s tremendous contributions to the African American art movement have garnered her wide recognition over the past decade. In February of 1998, the Neurberger Museum of Art at the State University of New York honored Catlett with a 50-year retrospective that traveled throughout the United States and Mexico. She was honored again in 2003, when the International Sculpture Center, the world’s leading international sculpture organization, awarded her its Lifetime Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award.
Although retired from teaching, she continues with her art. In 2003, she unveiled her monumental sculpture honoring the late author Ralph Ellison, author of the groundbreaking 1952 novel, Invisible Man. Commissioned by the City of New York Parks & Recreation Department, the monolithic work is situated in Riverside Park in Harlem. Today, Catlett divides her time between New York City and Curenavaca, Mexico.
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