Iowa Alumni Magazine | December 2007 | Reviews

I Am: Prints by Elizabeth Catlett

By Kathryn Howe
The measure of talent that existed between these two former roommates boggles the mind.

Play Mates, from For My People, 1992, color lithograph portfolio published by Limited Editions Club.

In the late 1930s, artist Elizabeth Catlett, 40MFA, and writer Margaret Walker, 40MA, 65PhD, shared a room at the University of Iowa. Both went on to achieve fame and critical acclaim for their inspired work.

Now they are together again, this time at the UI Museum of Art.

I Am: Prints by Elizabeth Catlett, featuring a selection of 27 prints by the renowned UI alumna, will be on display at the museum through January 6. The striking exhibition also includes a six-print portfolio inspired by Walker's poem "For My People."

This poem won Walker, a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, the Yale Younger Poets award. She also received celebrated reviews for her novel Jubilee.

A student of Grant Wood, Catlett became the first person to receive an M.F.A. degree in sculpture from the UI. Her politically charged sculptures and prints depict the experiences of African Americans and Mexicans, particularly women and children.

Says museum curator Kathleen Edwards, who selected the prints for the UIMA collection, "Catlett's work is full of love and tenderness and also, in a way, sorrow for the past and fear for the future."