"My Art Speaks for Both My Peoples"

September 16 – December 4, 2021
Watson Galleries

“My Art Speaks for Both My Peoples”

Selected Prints by Elizabeth Catlett

My Art Speaks for Both My Peoples features nine important prints by noted African American artist Elizabeth Catlett. The title echoes that of a 1970 article in Ebony Magazine in which Catlett is quoted saying, “I am inspired by black people, and Mexican people, my two peoples.” The prints are all, as art historian Melanie Herzog states, “politically charged and aesthetically compelling graphic… images.” Collectively, they highlight three overarching themes in the artist’s oeuvre: identity, collaboration, and activism. These themes intertwine throughout the artist’s career, beginning as a student in painting and sculpture, and then as a teacher and activist in New Orleans, Chicago and New York. She began her work as a printmaker, at the Taller de Gráfica Popular in Mexico City, initially funded by two Rosenwald Fellowships. In 1947, she married artist Francisco Mora, raised a family, became a Mexican citizen in 1962, and was the first female sculpture professor in the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. Throughout her career, Catlett’s sculpture and prints reflect the intersections of African American and Mexican people’s histories and experiences, and this exhibition highlights some of those intersections. This exhibit was curated by Patricia Hobbs, Senior Curator of Art, and developed with the assistance of Nneka Dennie, Assistant Professor of History; Lena Hill, Provost; Michael Hill, Professor of Africana Studies; and Mohamed Kamara, Professor of Romance Languages. It was made possible by a special loan from the Sragow Gallery in New York City, as well as the generous support of Mrs. Jane Joel Knox, who provided funds and the initial impetus to add Catlett prints to the Museums’ art collection.

View the virtual gallery.