Elizabeth Catlett Symposium

“My Art Speaks for Both My Peoples”: A Symposium on Elizabeth Catlett

In conjunction with the exhibition The Art of Elizabeth Catlett, the University of Delaware Library, Museums and Press will sponsor a day-long symposium that explores Elizabeth Catlett’s art and activism in its transnational contexts. Although Catlett may be best remembered for her feminist representations of black life and the fight for racial justice in the United States, she was also a Mexican citizen, having permanently resettled in Mexico City in 1947. Her leftist politics eventually led Catlett to be declared an “undesirable alien” by the U.S., and she was barred from re-entering the United States until 1971. Throughout and despite this exile, Catlett continued to create politically charged work that transcended national borders. As she famously described in the 1970 Ebony magazine article entitled “My Art Speaks for Both My Peoples”: “I am inspired by black people and Mexican people, my two peoples.”

This event is supported by the College of Arts and Sciences’ Paul R. Jones Initiative (PRJI).

View the Call For Papers

Event Schedule

Thursday, October 3, 2019, 5-7 p.m.

Evening Reception, Mechanical Hall Gallery, University of Delaware

Friday, October 4, 2019

Symposium,  Trabant Theater, University of Delaware

Speakers and Respondents

Melanie Herzog, Ph.D., dean of the School of Arts and Sciences and professor of art history at Edgewood College, Keynote speaker

Mali Collins-White, Ph.D. candidate, Department of English, University of Delaware, Morning session respondent

Rose Salseda, Ph.D., assistant professor of Art History, Department of Art and Art History, Stanford University, Afternoon session respondent


Michelle Donnelly, Ph.D. candidate, Department of the History of Art, Yale University – “There is a Woman in Every Color”: Color, Skin and Racial Identity in Elizabeth Catlett’s Prints

Rebecca VanDiver, Ph.D., assistant professor of African American art history, Department of History of Art, Vanderbilt University – From the Black Feminist Matrix: Artistic and Biological Reproduction in Elizabeth Catlett’s Late Career Prints

Dalila Scruggs, Ph.D., independent scholar and museum educator, Brooklyn Museum – From Political Prisoner to Angela Libre: Elizabeth Catlett’s Contribution to the Free Angela Davis Campaign

George Flaherty, Ph.D, associate professor of Latin American and Latinx art history, and director of the Center for Latin American Visual Studies, University of Texas, Austin – On Blackness in Modern Art of Mexico, 1920s and 30s

J.V. Decemvirale, Ph.D. candidate, Department of History of Art and Architecture, University of California, Santa Barbara – Lessons in Disobedience: Samella Lewis and the American Art Museum

Benjamin Jones, graduate student, Northwestern University – What We Cain’t Do: Pedagogy and the Art of Charles White, Elizabeth Catlett and Dewey Crumpler

Registration Information

The symposium is free, but advance registration is requested. Additional information will be available soon.

Contact Information

This event is sponsored by the University of Delaware Library, Museums & Press, with support from the Paul R. Jones Initiative, University of Delaware College of Arts & Sciences

Organizers: Dr. Amanda Zehnder, Ashley Rye-Kopec, Anne Cross, and Dr. Tiffany E. Barber

Please email ud.catlettsymposium@gmail.com if you have questions about this event.