Elizabeth Catlett (Mexican, born United States, 1915–2012)
Sheet: 12 3/8 x 9 3/8 in. (31.4 x 23.8 cm); image: 7 3/4 x 5 3/4 in. (19.7 x 14.6 cm)
Gift of Reba and Dave Williams, 1999 (1999.529.34)
Elizabeth Catlett studied art at Howard University in Washington, D.C., in the 1930s under such notable teachers as Lois Maillou Jones, James Porter, James Wells, and James Herring, and received a master's degree from the State University of Iowa in 1940 where she studied with the painter Grant Wood and sculptor Henry Stinson. Best known for her wood and stone sculptures abstracting archetypal figures of African American women, she has also been a prolific printmaker throughout her long career. The subject of this small lithographof maternal love and protectionwas repeated many times in her work. As she wrote in 1940 about a related sculpture, her desire was "to create a composition of two figures, one smaller than the other, so interlaced as to be expressive of maternity." In this print, Catlett capitalizes on lithography's ability to produce tonal gradations, articulating the figures with deep shadows and bright highlights to make them appear almost sculptural.