UofM's Hooks Institute partners with Memphis Brooks Museum to explore work of African American artist Elizabeth Catlett

Aug. 30, 2021 — 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 memphis.edu/benhooks.

About the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art

Founded in 1916 and located at 1934 Poplar Ave. in historic Overton Park, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art is home to Tennessee's oldest and largest major collection of world art. More than 10,000 works make up the Brooks Museum's permanent collection, including works from ancient Greece, Rome and the Americas; Renaissance masterpieces from Italy; English portraiture; American painting, sculpture, photography and works on paper and decorative arts; contemporary art; and a survey of African art. The Brooks Museum enriches the lives of our diverse community through the museum's expanding collection, varied exhibitions, and dynamic programs that reflect the art of world cultures from antiquity to the present. For more information about the Brooks and all other exhibitions and programs, call 901.544.6200 or visit www.brooksmuseum.org.