"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."
-“Art is only important to the extent that it aids in the liberation of our people.”
Elizabeth Catlett (April 15, 1915-April 2, 2012) was an African-American graphic artist and sculptor best known for her depictions of the African-American experience in the 20th century, which often had the female experience as their focus.
She was born and raised in Washington, D.C. to parents working in education, and was the grandchild of freed slaves. It was difficult for a black woman in this time to pursue a career as a working artist, and Catlett devoted much of her career to teaching.
Her subjects range from sensitive maternal images to confrontational symbol of the Black Power, as well as portraits of Martin Luther King, Jr., Harriet Tubman and writerPhyllis Wheatley, believing that art can play a role the construction of transnational and ethnic identity. Her best-known works depict black women as strong and maternal. The women are voluptuous, with broad hips and shoulders, in positions of power and confidence, often with torsos thrust forward to show attitude.
Do you think that Elizabeth Catlett's artwork would be as powerful if it did not use the subtractive art method?