Elizabeth Catlett: Artist As Activist Explores The Legacy of Renown Sculptor & Printmaker


— The Reginald F. Lewis Museum’s new special exhibition, Elizabeth Catlett: Artist as Activist opens Saturday, October 26, 2019 and runs until March 1, 2020.

Elizabeth Catlett (1915-2012), a sculptor and printmaker, is widely considered one of the most important African American artists of the 20th century. The exhibition includes 20 prints and 14 sculptures by Catlett, as well as one print by her husband, Mexican artist Francisco Mora.

Throughout her career, Catlett used art in support of issues that mattered to her— freedom, race and ethnicity, feminism and maternalism— and fought oppression, racism, class and gender inequality.

An American and Mexican citizen, Catlett is best known for her depictions of African American women, the African American experience, and Mexican people who faced injustice. For Catlett, art was a tool for social and political change.

“I believe that art should come from the people and be for the people.” she said on in 1952.

While living in Mexico, Catlett was not afraid to use her art to confront the plight of the Mexican worker, especially sharecroppers, as well as injustices against African Americans during the Jim Crow era.

She continued her fight for equality in politically charged, black expressionist sculptures and prints created during the 1960s and 70s.

“I feel it’s extremely important for the museum to showcase the work of African American artists, who happen to be female, because they have steadfastly devoted their long careers to producing works that relate to black people and the black experience. They’ve always been there, but many were overlooked and neglected by the mainstream art world. As we celebrate the contributions of women, especially now, it’s important that we recognize the work of Elizabeth Catlett,” said Jackie Copeland, Executive Director and Curator, Reginald F. Lewis Museum.

Elizabeth Catlett was the recipient of numerous awards, recognitions, and honorary doctorate degrees, including a Lifetime Achievement Award in contemporary sculpture from the International Sculpture Center in 2003. She died at the age of 96 in her home in Cuernavaca, Mexico.

The Reginald F. Lewis Museum is Maryland’s largest museum dedicated to the state’s African American experience. A Smithsonian affiliate, the museum is located at 830 E. Pratt Street in Baltimore City. For more information, visit: lewismuseum.org.