[audio:http://www.artmarketmonitor.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Elizabeth-Catlett-on-NPR.mp3|titles=Elizabeth Catlett on NPR] NPR profiles Elizabeth Catlett whose work has become increasingly visible and influential. Her work has also become more valuable as it has been re-discovered. Part of the neglect comes from her decision to move to Mexcio and become an citizen. But that’s hardly the real reason:
“I, as an artist, a black woman artist, have been invisible in the art world for years,” she said.
When Catlett began creating, curator Isolde Brielmaier says, everything artists of color did was a struggle.
“Catlett kind of came of age as an artist when African-Americans and women were not part of the mainstream,” she says. “They were not part of the center. They were relegated to the margins and excluded.”
Catlett, the grandchild of slaves, was born in 1915 in Washington, D.C. She won a scholarship to the then-Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, but ended up at Howard University after Carnegie refused to accept a black woman.
By 1940, Catlett had become the first black woman to receive a master’s in fine arts at the University of Iowa. Her mentor there, American Gothic painter Grant Wood, encouraged Catlett to portray what she knew best. Wood inspired her to focus on black people — especially women — and their ongoing struggle for equality.
Black, Female And An Inspirational Modern Artist (Weekend Edition Sunday/NPR)