Discover Learn

Daily Art Moment: Elizabeth Catlett

“Not all art belongs on walls. Artists’ books are designed to be held by the viewer, creating an intimate and tactile relationship between the art and the onlooker. Often paired with text, artists’ books are a hybrid artform combining fine art, literature, and bookbinding. In ‘For My People,’ artist Elizabeth Catlett pairs six lithographs with Margaret Walker’s powerful poem of 1942 on the Black experience in America. Together, Catlett’s words and Walker’s text explore hope and despair, as well as the simple joys of life. Walker ends ‘For My People’ with a call to action that is as relevant today as it was in 1942: ‘Let a new earth rise. Let another world be born. Let a bloody peace be written in the sky. Let a second generation full of courage issue forth; let a people loving freedom come to growth. Let a beauty full of healing and strength of final clenching be the pulsing in our spirits and our blood. Let the martial songs be written, let the dirges disappear. Let a race of men now rise and take control.’ You can read the full poem at What are your hopes for ‘A Second Generation’?”

Mary Weaver Chapin, Curator of Prints and Drawings

Elizabeth Catlett (American and Mexican, 1915–2012). A Second Generation from For My People, 1992. Illustrated book of six lithographs with text by Margaret Walker; bound in imported red Japanese linen over heavy boards, housed in a cloth-covered clamshell box. The Carol and Seymour Haber Collection, 2008.73.9a,b © unknown, research required