Catlett, Elizabeth, 1915-2012Variant names
Elizabeth Catlett (b. Apr. 15, 1915, Washington, DC–d. Apr. 2, 2012, Cuernavaca, Mexico) was the granddaughter of freed slaves and a graduate of Howard University. She studied with artist Lois Mailou Jones and philosopher Alain Locke at Howard and also came to know artists James Herring, James Wells, and art historian James A. Porter. Catlett was a graduate student at the University of Iowa and studied drawing and painting with Grant Wood and sculpture with Harry Edward Stinson. Catlett graduated in 1940, one of three to earn the first masters in fine arts from the university, and the first African-American woman to receive the degree.
She moved to New Orleans to work at Dillard University and studied ceramics at the Art Institute of Chicago and lithography at the South Side Community Art Center during the summer. There she met her first husband, artist Charles Wilbert White, and they married in 1941 before moving to New York City. She studied lithography at the Art Students League of New York and worked with sculptor Ossip Zadkine. She met intellectuals and artists such as Gwendolyn Bennett, W. E. B. Dubois, Ralph Ellison, Langston Hughes, Jacob Lawrence, Aaron Douglas, and Paul Robeson.
In 1946, Catlett moved to Mexico and divorced White. She entered the Taller de Gráfica Popular and met printmaker and muralist Francisco Mora, whom she married and had three children: Francisco, Juan Mora Catlett, and David. She studied sculpture at the Escuela Nacional de Pintura, Escultura y Grabado "La Esmeralda" with José L. Ruíz and Francisco Zúñiga and later met Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, and David Alfaro Siqueiros.
Catlett came under surveillance by the United States and declared an "undesirable alien," being denied entry to the US. In 1962, she renounced her American citizenship and became a Mexican citizen.
|Place Name||Admin Code||Country|
|New York (N.Y.)|
|Washington, D. C.||DC||US|
|African American arts|
|African American women artists|
|African American artists|
|Women art teachers|
|Art and race|
|Artists as teachers|
|Political persecution--Women artists--United States and Mexico|
|Art Teachers--Dillard University|
|Political art--United States--Minorities|