Elizabeth Catlett (1915-2012)

Elizabeth Catlett, Target, c. 1955, terra cotta, 14 inches high, signed on the back of the neck

Being an “accepted” artist was never Elizabeth Catlett’s goal. Rather, she chose to affirm her African American heritage in her art. Following the advice of Grant Wood, her art instructor at the University of Iowa, she created art based on what she knew the best-her own people.

“Art must be realistic for me, whether sculpture or printmaking,” she said. “I have always wanted my art to service my people-to reflect us, to relate to us, to stimulate us, to make us aware of our potential….”

Catlett’s work has won numerous awards and has been in many exhibitions around the world. It is also in many collections at many of the foremost institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City; High Museum, Atlanta, Georgia; National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC; Amistad Research Center, Tulane University, New Orlleans, Louisiana; Fisk University, Nashville, Tennessee; National Museum, Prague, Czech Republic; Howard University Gallery of Art, Washigton, DC; and the Museum of Modern Art, New York City.