Monday, November 22, 2010

"There Is A Woman In Every Color" by Elizabeth Catlett

This image was created by the renown African American sculptor and printmaker Elizabeth Catlett, who was born in 1915 and currently resides in Mexico. Read more about her here.

The image combines (from left to right) woodcut, linocut, and screenprint. Catlett uses the media to emphasize harsh contrasts. The result is an image that is raw and confident. Like the title, the image reads as a strong and clear statement.

The face is specific, it is that of one particular woman, shown in both positive and negative as if to references a universal duality. Perhaps the inner self vs the public face or the draw toward both selfishness and benevolence. The two sides are halves of one whole.

The line of figures are generic yet joyful in their bright colors and stance with arms raised. They seem to be universal symbols of womanhood. Turned on their sides and together they create a stunning and stalwart trim.

The visible grain of the wood in the black on the left introduces some wandering texture to what is otherwise a totally flat arrangement of shapes. But the grain also connects with various other aspects: the delicate texture at the edges of the woman's hair, the stripes in the bottom lip.

I venture into the image over and over again, and every time I come out with two concepts more firmly burned into my mind: unity and strength.

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