Elizabeth Catlett, 100 Years

Elizabeth Catlett with her Sharecropper print, Hampton University Museum, 1998. Photo: Gregg AdamsThis year, three major exhibitions commemorate the centenary of Elizabeth Catlett (April 15, 1915-April 2, 2012).

Elizabeth Catlett (right), Samella Lewis and Hampton University President William Harvey at Hampton University Museum, 1993. Photo: Rueben BurrellElizabeth Catlett: A Celebration of 100 Years at the Hampton University Museum, January 30, 2015 - November 14, 2015

ELIZABETH CATLETT at the Stella Jones Gallery, New Orleans, April 11 - July 30, 2015

The Art of Elizabeth Catlett at the Museum of Contemporary African Diaspora Art, San Francisco, January 16 - April 5 , 2015   

The link between all three exhibitions is the art historian and artist Samella Lewis.  

Lewis was involved in arrangements for Catlett’s works to be acquired by the Hampton University Museum; she initiated the close relationship that developed between Stella Jones and Catlett; and she loaned Catlett works to the Museum of Contemporary African Diaspora Art for its current exhibition.

Elizabeth Catlett was Samella Sanders (Lewis)’ art teacher at Dillard University in New Orleans.  In 1943, when Catlett accompanied her husband Charles White to Hampton Institute, Samella transferred to Hampton to continue her study with Catlett.  Charles White had received a Rosenwald Fellowship to paint a mural in Clarke Hall on Hampton’s campus. Charles White and Catlett’s marriage ended shortly thereafter but Catlett and Lewis became lifelong friends.  The two women were associated in many ways, including Lewis becoming a collector of, and agent for, Catlett’s work.  

In 1997, Elizabeth Catlett designated the Hampton University Museum as the official respository of her work.

The Elizabeth Catlett: A Celebration of 100 Years exhibition at the Hampton University Museum is pulled from Catlett’s 125-plus works in the Museum's permanent collection. The exhibition also includes a gallery that documents students who were at Hampton in 1943 and were mentored by Catlett and Charles White: John Biggers, Samella Sanders (Lewis), Persis Jennings and Annabelle Baker.

Elizabeth Catlett (right) with Stella Jones and Franciso Mora, Stella Jones Gallery. Photo: Stella Jones GalleryELIZABETH CATLETT at Stella Jones Gallery consists of works by Catlett, her late husband, Francisco Mora and son David Mora Catlett, and is accompanied by a catalogue.

The Art of Elizabeth Catlett at the Museum of Contemporary African Diaspora Art presents selections of the artist’s works from Samella Lewis’ personal collection.

For the Dillard students Elizabeth Catlett was a commanding and fascinating individual....She was uncommonly agressive.  She stood up to everybody and involved herself in affairs that were unpopular at that time for both blacks and women....She confronted police on brutality, bus drivers on segregated seating, and college administrators on curriculum. — Samella Lewis recalling Elizabeth Catlett in New Orleans, 1940-1942, in her book, The Art of Elizabeth Catlett, Snowfire Publishing, 1984.