Elizabeth Catlett, Going Strong at 94

Thanks to a heads up from artist Bianca Dorsey, I was among the many well-wishers on hand at a reception for nonagenarian sculptor Elizabeth Catlett at the June Kelly Gallery last week.  It was my absolute pleasure –and honor –to join the crowd in singing “Happy Birthday” to the esteemed artist, who at 94 is still producing work in various media from printmaking to sculpture of warm woods, patinated bronze, red onyx and black marble.   Wearing vibrant magenta silk dupioni, she graciously received guests with a radiance that reflects a life lived embracing her passion for creation and arts education.


Ms. Catlett receives a cupcake from gallerist June Kelly.

The native Washingtonian’s impressive body of work was first publicly lauded when in 1940 her figurative limestone piece, Mother and Child won first prize in sculpture at the American Negro Exposition in Chicago. Moving to Mexico (where she still resides much of the time) in the late 1940’s, she married Mexican artist Francisco Mora and became a Mexican citizen, yet her work strongly celebrates African-American identity and remains resonant and relevant into her seventh decade of creating art.


Bather, 2009                                                                                                                       Mahogany

Elizabeth Catlett, Recent Sculpture  (2006-2009) is currently on view through Tuesday, May 2 2009.

June Kelly Gallery

591 Broadway  (between Houston and Prince)

212 226 1660

Tuesday – Saturday, 11am – 6pm.


6 Responses

  1. Thanks for the heads up. Didn’t know she was still in the land of the living.

    I’m inspired to keep creating AND looking good at 94.

  2. Thank you Sharon, this is a gem! I’m going to keep her work on my wish list.

  3. great news and a wonderful post! i remember my real-life encounter with catlett’s work in a friend’s living room. i was struck by the beauty of her sculpture – and immediately guessed it was an elizabeth catlett. seeing her on your blog with her magenta top and mexican citizenship, i know more about the woman, who is clearly just as distinctive and classic as her work.


  4. Yes she is a living-legend

  5. I had NO idea she was still living! I am in awe of her work. I’m sad I missed the gallery show.

  6. I heard this was great. Would have loved to have been there!

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