The direct gaze of the subject of Pensive and the use of strong lines to delineate her face are reminiscent of many of Catlett’s sculpted works. Catlett is known for sculptures and prints depicting Black American and Mexican women and children, including Americans Sojourner Truth (ca. 1797–1883), Harriet Tubman (1822–1913), and Phillis Wheatley (1753–1784), as well as anonymous individuals. She defied barriers throughout her career, becoming the first African American to earn a master’s of fine arts in sculpture from the University of Iowa (1940) and the first African American woman to teach sculpture at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (late 1950s). She moved to Mexico in the 1940s, where she later acquired citizenship, and exhibited there and in the United States.
Lisa Crossman 2020
African American; figures; portraits; women; faces
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