NAACP Mourns the Passing of Elizabeth CatlettApril 05, 2012
(Baltimore, MD) – Elizabeth Catlett, an eminent African American artist whose work reflected the civil rights movement and African American experience, passed away April 3rd at age 96.
“The death of Elizabeth Catlett, our extraordinary African American artist, is an inestimable loss for all of us,” stated NAACP Chairman Roslyn M. Brock. “Her sculptures and prints provide a mirror for black America’s unremitting civil rights campaign.”
“Ms. Catlett mastered the art of visually portraying the injustices of everyday life,” stated NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. “Her life’s work is a loving homage to the history of black men and women in this country. She will truly be missed.”
During her adult years, she overcame continued major challenges such as the denied entry to Carnegie Institute of Technology because of her color. She moved on to earn a degree from Howard University, an historically black college. Subsequently, after earning her Masters at the University of Iowa, she was Chair of Dillard University’s Art Department, then joined the faculty of George Washington Carver, a community school in Harlem. In the 1940’s she went to Mexico City where she became the first woman to serve as Chairman of the Sculpture Department at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and served in this post until her retirement in 1975.
Throughout these years, she was an active, participating supporter of the NAACP. Her sculpture, prints and statements appeared on covers and pages of our CRISIS Magazine. For the NAACP Centennial, she generously created an original painting titled “Keisha M.,” in tribute to the strength and determination of our young black women. This work was reproduced in limited edition, signed lithograph form and made available to major donors for the benefit of the Association.
We deeply mourn her loss with her ever-burning flame of talent, strength and social consciousness which infused her art now featured in leading museums and galleries throughout the United States and around the world.
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.