The Bronx Museum of the Arts presents Stargazers: Elizabeth Catlett in Conversation with 21 Contemporary Artists, an exhibition highlighting Elizabeth Catlett’s role as a pioneering African American female artist and her relationship to later generations of contemporary artists.
On view until May 29, 2011, the exhibition explores her ground-breaking career from the 1960s to the present through a selection of more than 40 of her prints and sculptures. Stargazers also include works by 21 international contemporary artists whose ideas and practices will be examined in conversation with Catlett’s life and work. These artists are: Sanford Biggers, iona rozeal brown, Patty Chang, Patricia Coffie, Renee Cox, Sam Durant, Lalla Essaydi, Ellen Gallagher and Edgar Cleijne, Kalup Linzy, Kerry James Marshall, Wardell Milan, Wangechi Mutu, Wanda Raimundi-Ortiz, Robert Pruitt, Xaviera Simmons, Shinique Smith, Hank Willis Thomas, Mickalene Thomas, Roberto Visani, and Carrie Mae Weems. Organized by the Bronx Museum with guest curator Isolde Brielmaier, Stargazers is the first exhibition to frame Catlett’s role within the context of contemporary art history and to look at her work from a global perspective.
The 21 artists, whose work is on view in conversation with Catlett’s and many of whom are included in the Bronx Museum’s collection, share her attention to practice and technique as well as passion for exploring such issues as race, gender, history, memory, politics. The younger generation featured in the exhibition includes established and emerging contemporary artists from a range of countries, including Ghana, Italy, Jamaica, Kenya, and Morocco. The works encompass a wide variety of media, such as ceramics, new media, painting, photography, and sculpture, and date from the early 1990s to the present.
A painter, sculptor, printmaker, teacher, and activist, Elizabeth Catlett was born in 1915 and lives and works in the United States and Mexico. Her work focuses on African American culture and the ongoing struggles for equality and international human rights. She received first prize in the 1940 American Negro Exposition held in Chicago for her graduate thesis at Howard University and was the first African American recipient of an MFA in sculpture at the University of Iowa. Other notable achievements include serving as the first female professor of sculpture and the head of the sculpture department at the National School of Fine Arts, San Carlos, and receiving the International Sculpture Center’s 2003 Lifetime Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award.