Three sculptures from acclaimed artist Elizabeth Catlett coming to the National Museum of African American History and Culture

Janice K. Johnson

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By Deborah Bailey,
AFRO DC Editor

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) is currently displaying the work of DC native and world-renowned artist, Elizabeth Catlett (19151-2012). The acclaimed 20th-century sculptor and graphic artist now have three of her best-known depictions of the Black American Experience inside the museum.

Three 5–foot tall sculptures, “Offering Education,” “Offering Life” and “Rejecting Injustice” are now on display at the NMAAHC long term as visitors enter the museum through Heritage Hall.

The installation of these sculptures symbolizes motherhood and the dignity, struggle and uplifting of African Americans. The display of Catlett’s work is just one of many ways in which NMAAHC celebrated the close of Women’s History Month, in addition to amplifying stories through its Hidden Herstory initiative.

The pieces will join a selection of Catlett’s groundbreaking woodcuts currently featured in “Reckoning: Protest. Defiance. Resilience.” in the Rhimes Family Foundation Galleries on the museum’s fourth floor.

Catlett was a 20th-century African American and Mexican artist whose work crossed the intersections of race and feminism. Shaped by stories her mother and grandmother told her about the hardships Black people faced, Catlett used her art to showcase issues she felt were underrepresented in the mainstream art movement.

Since opening on Sept. 24, 2016, the National Museum of African American History and Culture has welcomed more than 7.5 million in-person visitors and millions more through its digital presence. 

Occupying a prominent location next to the Washington Monument on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the nearly 400,000-square-foot museum is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive cultural destination devoted exclusively to exploring, documenting and showcasing the African American story and its impact on American and world history.

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