Monthly Archives: August 2011

Elizabeth Catlett

Elizabeth Catlett was born in 1915 in Washington, DC. In 1931 she began attending Howard University where she studied design, printmaking and drawing. Catlett won a scholarship to Carnegie Tech but was refused enrollment when the prestigious school realized she was black. After graduating with honors from Howard University in 1935 and teaching art in the Jim Crow South, she studied with painter Grant Wood at the University of Iowa. Catlett eventually became the first African-American student to receive an M.F.A. in sculpture from the school.

Catlett briefly lived and worked in Harlem, New York, while married to Charles White. After studying in Mexico, she in 1947 married Mexican artist Francisco Mora and made Mexico her permanent home, where she lives today. Although Catlett officially retired from teaching sculpture and heading the sculpture department at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in 1975, she continues to be active in the Cuernavaca art community.

Throughout her career, Catlett has been a political progressive whose art reflects her commitment to improving the lives of African American and indigenous peoples. In Mexico, she worked with the Taller de Gráfica Popular (People’s Graphic Arts Workshop), a group of printmakers  dedicated to using their art to promote social change. There she and other artists created posters, leaflets, collective booklets, illustrations for textbooks, posters and illustrations advocating for schools and literacy in Mexico.

Pictured: Woman Fixing her Hair, 1993, Mahogany and opals, collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY.

Listen to Catlett speak about her work and see a timeline of her accomplishments:

Visiting the Ann Norton Studio and Sculpture Garden

Born in Alabama, Ann Vaughn Weaver drew from the time she was 5 years old and received her first sculpting tool at age 8.  Ann attended Smith College and subsequently moved to New York to study at the National Academy of Design, Arts Student League of New York and Cooper Union. The artist’s studio contains works in bronze, stone and wood, encompassing over 4 decades of sculpture. Her “Gateway” series in northern cedar is abstract yet warm, inviting and powerful.  Norton’s work encompasses several styles and periods, from the abstract Gateway series to large figurative works in brick and stone.

In 1977 Ann Weaver Norton had the foresight to establish a foundation: Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens, Inc. Ann sought to preserve the historically significant art studio, the sculpture gardens and the architecture that comprise this unique national and local treasure. Ann lived and worked at 253 Barcelona Road, West Palm Beach for 34 years until the time of her death in 1982.

The Gardens is now open to the public and is operated as a private foundation incorporating the arts, environmental awareness, and interpretive history of Ann Weaver Norton.

Above: Anne Weaver in her studio in the 1950s. Photo and content courtesy the Ann Norton Sculpture Garden and website, 2011.