The Bronx Museum of the Arts Presents Exhibition Exploring Work of Elizabeth Catlett

The Bronx Museum of the Arts will present 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 from January 27 through May 29, 2011, the exhibition will explore her ground-breaking career from the 1960s to the present through a selection of more than 40 of her prints and sculptures. Stargazers will 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 will be 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 will be 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.

Curator Isolde Brielmaier is a New York City-based independent curator, professor, and writer. Her recent exhibitions include Signs Taken for Wonders (2009, Jack Shainman Gallery, New York City);
Shinique Smith: Torch Songs (2008, Saltworks Gallery, Atlanta); and Titus Kaphar: Painting Undone (2008, Red Gallery, Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, GA). She has served as Program Curator for the 2009 Armory Show and VOLTA NY; co-curator of photo MIAMI 2009; and a Curator of special exhibitions and programs at ARCOmadrid, the International Contemporary Art Fair of Madrid. Brielmaier is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Art and a Post-Doctoral Mellon Fellow at Vassar College, as well as Guest Professor at New York University. She received her Ph.D. in art history from Columbia University.

Founded in 1971, the Bronx Museum of the Arts is a contemporary art museum that connects diverse audiences to the urban experience through its permanent collection, special exhibitions, and education programs. Reflecting the borough’s dynamic communities, the Museum is the crossroad where artists, local residents, and national and international visitors meet. The Museum’s home on the Grand Concourse is a distinctive contemporary landmark designed by the internationally-renowned firm Arquitectonica.

To get to the Museum, visitors can take the B or D train to the 167 Street/Grand Concourse Station stop and walk south along the Grand Concourse two blocks. Please note: D trains do not stop during rush hour peak times (from 6:15 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. on Manhattan-bound trains, and from 4:00 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. on Bronx-bound trains). Visitors can also reach the Museum via the 4 train to 161 Street/Yankee Stadium. At the exit, walk east three blocks to Grand Concourse and north four blocks along Grand Concourse. For more information please visit

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  1. sand says:

    Elizabeth Cattlet is a Black artist living and working in NY and Mexico. She’s been living there for the past 60 years and yet there is no reference what so ever about that countries influence on Ms. Cattlet’s work in the Bronx Museum show Stargazers which consists of mostly Black contemporary artists whose work has very little to do with Ms.Cattlet’s work in the first place.
    Some of the strongest examples of artists who’ve been influenced by Eizabeth Cattlet are Kerry James Marshall, Carrie Mae Weems and Robert Pruitt except Robert Pruitt’s commissioned t-shirt “negro es bello” was a weak interpretation at Black is Beautiful because it was designed to appease the mainstream instead of provoke thought. Kerry James Marshall is a mid career artist whose work has many direct links to Cattlet aesthetically but more so in content. Positive examples of Black people and community through painting. Carrie Mae Weems work has also had the same impact on society in that it provokes one to reconsider the Black body not as popular culture entertainment but as a human being. Then there are the weak links that one has to question why they were even considered. Shinique Smith whose work investigates the aesthetics of graffiti art but without any criticality? Kalup Linzy whose work investigates cross dressing by promoting stereotypes of Black gay men? Xaviera Simmons whose entire body of work is a reflection of victimization rather than self determination? Wangechi Mutu whose paintings, drawings are so aesthetically stimulating because they lack any substance or serious content? Mickalene Thomas whose work is really about female fetish for other females? It seems like everyone was selected from the Studio Museum in Harlem’s last 5 years of exhibitions while excluding anyone from New Jersey or any other State or City. It is sad to see such a great opportunity lost to self indulgence and grand standing by many of these young artists who know nothing of Elizabeth Cattlet’s work or her sacrifice.

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