Elizabeth Catlett (Mexican; American, 1915 – 2012)
DimensionsSheet : 22 1/2 x 24 in. (57.15 x 60.96 cm)
Credit LineGift of Arthur and Kristine Rossof
LabelAfter earning an MFA from the University of Iowa in 1940 and struggling for several years to establish herself as a professional artist, Elizabeth Catlett moved to Mexico in 1946 and joined a left-wing artists’ collective called the People’s Graphic Workshop (Taller de Gráfica Popular). Catlett’s participation in that workshop attracted scrutiny from the United States government, which considered the workshop to be a communist organization. When Catlett attempted to return to the United States in 1961 to visit her dying mother, the government refused to let her enter the country and declared her to be an “undesirable alien.” In protest, Catlett renounced her American citizenship in 1962 and became a Mexican citizen. Although Catlett no longer lived in the United States, she remained closely connected to many African American artists and to the Civil Rights movement, and she created numerous artworks that were inspired by African American history and culture. This image of two women talking from near the end of Catlett’s career reminds us about the importance of friendship and the crucial role that women in particular play in African American family and community life.