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Elizabeth Catlett: An American Artist in Mexico.

Elizabeth Catlett: An American Artist in Mexico by Anne Herzog University of Washington Press, August 2000, $35.00, ISBN 0-295-97940-2

Walking the line between the responsibilities of nationhood and a sense of one's self as an actualized, affirmed individual can often be a traumatic experience. Within this search for self-affirmation is the effort to sculpt a distinct persona with which to give life some sense of meaning.

As black woman, mother, artist, activist and iconic figure in the history of African American art, Elizabeth Catlett's life and work deserves such a comprehensive study such as this. Herzog carries readers through Catlett's accomplishments as artist and teacher in traditionally black colleges across the United States in the early 1930s, through her eventual exodus to Mexico in 1947--where she still lives with her husband, Mexican artist Francisco Mora. Herzog portrays Catlett as an artist with an uncompromising spirit and an excellent sense of craft--one who finds an affinity between the proletarian struggles of the Mexican people and that of African Americans. A master sculptor and printmaker influenced by the Mexican tradition of mural and linocut making, as well as European modernism, Catlett uses her experience as a black woman to adhere the commonalties she sees between the struggles.

With keen political insight and an overwhelming sense of responsibility to, and love for, the black communities, Catlett eventually emerged a prominent figure in the Black Arts Movement of the '60s and '70s. Herzog brings to light the relationship between an individual's journey, its destination and the culminating statement. Catlett's life reveals the liberating power of simultaneously recognizing home in ourselves while staying flexible enough to feel at home anywhere our work may take us.
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Title Annotation:Review
Author:Ellis, Kelly
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Article Type:Book Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2000
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