Elizabeth Catlett at MoAD


Roots, 1981, mixed media, Elizabeth Catlett

The Art of Elizabeth Catlett: Selections from the Collection of Samella Lewis on view at The Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD), San Francisco, is a tribute to the life-work of the artist

Stepping Out, 2000, bronze

Stepping Out, 2000, bronze

and celebrates seven decades of her career as a sculptor and printmaker.  It is one of the first major exhibitions of Catlett’s work on the West Coast since her passing at age 96 in 2012.

Sharecropper, Elizabeth Catlett

Sharecropper, 1952, linocut

Widely considered one of the most important African American artists of the 20th century, Catlett’s work blends art and social consciousness while confronting the most disturbing injustices against African Americans. “Throughout her career, she has been a political progressive committed to improving the lives of African-American and Mexican women, and she has often used her art explicitly to advance their cause.  She has also protested, picketed, and even been arrested in her quest to win justice for those she describes as “my people.”Jeff Harrison, Chrysler Museum of Art.  Catlett is best known for her work during the 1960s and 1970s when she created politically charged, black expressionistic sculptures and prints.

Elizabeth Catlett - Black Girl

Black Girl, 2004, lithograph

Pauline,  1967/2003, lithograph

Pauline, 1967/2003, lithograph

The exhibition was co-curated by Samella Lewis, Ph.D. and Cecile Shellman and includes 38 works by Elizabeth Catlett (1915-2012), her husband, Francisco Mora (1922-2002), and artist-historian, Samella Lewis, Ph.D.  All 38 works are from the personal collection of artist, educator and author Samella Lewis, Ph.D., Professor Emerita, Art History, Scripps College, in Claremont, CA. Lewis was a student of Catlett’s in the 1940s at Dillard University in New Orleans when Catlett became her mentor and lifetime friend. MoAD has posted a video interview with Samella Lewis about her art collection and her relationship with Catlett.

Elizabeth Catlett, 2011New York Times photo

Elizabeth Catlett, 2011
New York Times photo


The Art of Elizabeth Catlett exhibition will be on view at MoAD, 685 Mission Street (at Third), San Francisco through April 5, 2015.  The museum is open Wednesday – Sunday.