The Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change at the University of Memphis and the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art will feature African American artist Elizabeth Catlett’s internationally renowned work on the Hooks Institute’s Facebook page on Sept. 9 at 6 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to RSVP for this event by clicking here.
Brooks Museum Curatorial Fellow Heather Nickels, in conversation with Hooks Institute executive director Daphene McFerren, will examine pieces featured in the recent exhibit, “Persevere and Resist: The Strong Black Women of Elizabeth Catlett,” which closed on Aug. 29.
Catlett wanted her art to be accessible to all, regardless of education or experience, which, according to her 2021 obituary in the New York Times, “meant balancing abstraction with figuration.” Her stylized faces and bodies are proud and stoic, yet curvaceous and soft, designed to “show man’s dignity stripped to essence.” An educator and artist, Catlett went on to become the first female professor of sculpture and, eventually, head of the sculpture department at the National Autonomous University of Mexico’s School of Fine Arts in Mexico City. Catlett states that she “learned how to use your art for the service of people, struggling people, to whom only realism is meaningful.”
About Heather Nickels, Curator of Persevere and Resist: The Strong Black Women of Elizabeth Catlett
Heather Nickels joined the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art in August 2019 as the Joyce Blackmon Curatorial Fellow of African American Art and Art of the African Diaspora. She completed an MA with Distinction in the History of Art from The Courtauld Institute of Art in London. She received her BA in Art History from Barnard College in 2016. Nickels has worked for several American non- and for-profit arts institutions, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New Museum of Contemporary Art, The Courtauld Gallery, The Museum of Modern Art, Sperone Westwater Gallery, and Andrea Rosen Gallery. For two years, she worked as a project research associate on the exhibition, Posing Modernity: The Black Model from Manet and Matisse to Today | Le Modèle noir, de Géricault à Matisse, which opened at the Wallach Gallery, Columbia University in 2018 and later traveled to the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.
About Daphene R. McFerren
Daphene R. McFerren, the executive director of the Hooks Institute, has built alliances with local and national institutions, businesses, and community organizations to advance the Hooks Institute’s mission of eradicating racial, social, economic, and other disparities in Memphis and beyond.
About the Hooks Institute
The Benjamin L. Hooks Institute implements its mission of teaching, studying, and promoting civil rights and social change through research, education, and direct intervention programs. Institute programs include community outreach; funding faculty research initiatives on community issues; implementing community service projects; hosting conferences, symposiums, and lectures; and promoting local and national civil and human rights scholarship. The Hooks Institute is an interdisciplinary center at the University of Memphis. Contributed revenue for the Hooks Institute, including funding from individuals, corporations, and foundations, is administered through the University of Memphis Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization. For more information, visit us here.