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Announcement
September 17, 2021

Elizabeth Catlett: Points of Contact

Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)

Elizabeth Catlett, Which Way?, 1973–2003. Lithograph, 11 x 14.5 inches, edition 4 of 25. Courtesy of the Elizabeth Catlett Family Trust.

The exhibition showcases key works by influential artist Elizabeth Catlett (1915–2012) in conversation with contemporary artists.

Presented in the SCAD Museum of Art’s Evans Center for African American Studies, the group exhibition Elizabeth Catlett: Points of Contact examines the life and legacy of one of the most important artists of the past century. On view September 16, 2021–January 30, 2022, this long overdue exploration of the artist’s incandescent influence on creative practice today includes sculptures and prints by Catlett (b. 1915, Washington, D.C.; d. 2012, Cuernavaca, Mexico) in conversation with contemporary works by living artists from both the U.S. and Mexico.

Across her 60-year career, Catlett—who became a Mexican citizen in 1962 and had her US citizenship restored in 2002— initiated a dialogue among the Black Arts movement in the U.S., Mexico’s pre-Hispanic sculptural language, and Mexican Muralism and Social Realism. Her significant body of politically charged and aesthetically compelling works celebrates ideals of human rights and the dignity and achievements of women of color. Yet, while the artist’s oeuvre is canonical, it remains a discovery for many. The exhibition features Catlett’s signature figurative works in various mediums, including wood-block prints, wood carvings, and bronze sculptures, that depict experiences of Black Americans and Indigenous Mexican people in the 20th century with clarity and precision.

“Elizabeth Catlett was a trailblazing artist whose powerful work bridged two very complex cultures", says adjunct curator Humberto Moro. "Originated by SCAD MOA, Points of Contact features works sourced directly from her studio that recount different stages in her vast career. The exhibition establishes a dialogue between Catlett and a new generation of artists who are equally thinking about their own position within social, political, and domestic environments.”

In showcasing the work of contemporary Black American and Mexican artists with strong connections—sometimes direct references—to Catlett’s work, the presentation demonstrates how Catlett’s influences, concerns, and questions are very much alive in global contemporary culture and artistic practice, and highlights the ways in which her works advocate for the dignity of all humans. Points of Contact is the latest iteration in a series presented at the Evans Center that has included exhibitions examining the work and impact of cultural figures such as Jacob Lawrence and Frederick Douglass. Established in 2011, the Evans Center celebrates the imaginative breadth and expressive legacy of African American art and culture.

Featured artists include Elizabeth Catlett, Elizabeth Catlett in collaboration with David Mora Catlett, Francisco Mora, Mildred Beltré, Geles Cabrera, Jen Everett, Julieta Gil, Ariston Jacks, LaToya Hobbs, Josué Mejía, and Pedro Reyes.

As part of the exhibition’s opening celebrations, SCAD MOA will host virtual programming including the annual Jacob Lawrence and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Lecture, given by Catlett scholar Melanie Anne Herzog, PhD, and a screening of the documentary Betty and Pancho (1998), directed by Catlett’s son, Juan Mora Catlett.

Elizabeth Catlett: Points of Contact is organized by SCAD MOA adjunct curator Humberto Moro, curator DJ Hellerman, and assistant curator Brittany Richmond.

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