As a part of the celebration of Black History Month, the Women’s Center showed a documentary film on a prominent African American sculptor Elizabeth Catlett this Thursday Feb. 15. The film, entitled “Sculpting the Truth” covered the struggles that Catlett faced as a woman and as an African American during her quest to become a successful artist.According to Robin Garrett, Director of the Women’s Center, students who come to watch such presentations are often limited, due to a shift in what draws the interest of students.
“Students often overlook ceremonies and presentations on campus which do not offer a famous personality or are not required for a course,” Garrett said regarding the low attendance of many smaller scale on-campus presentations.
“The need is less compelling,” Garrett said. She has encountered difficulty when trying to promote theme months and on-campus presentations.
One WCU senior said that students are drawn much more to on-campus events that offer an attention grabbing topic or personality.
“On-campus events that take place in the middle of the day aren’t a priority to many students, and many students often avoid such events because they are uninterested in people and history that they don’t feel have directly affected their lives,” said the senior.
Garrett also emphasized that if only one student is affected by these ceremonies, they are very much worthwhile and necessary.
The Elizabeth Catlett video shown on Wednesday afternoon was narrated by famous quilter Faith Ringgold, along with Catlett herself, and covered much of her artistic career, which began in high school when she carved bars of soap into sculptures.
Catlett, whose grandparents were slaves freed during abolition, discussed the shift that has taken place during the span of her long career as a sculptor.
“In the beginning, there were very few African American female sculptors; it’s much more common and accepted now,” Catlett said.
Catlett also spoke of the sexism and racism that she faced during the opening stages of her career as a sculptor in America. According to Catlett, sexism and racism were not quite as prevalent in Mexico during her time there.
The Women’s Center had also planned to show similar documentary videos on Emma Amos, a successful African American 20 century painter, and Betye and Alison Saar, a mother and daughter who were famous for their sculptures representing womanhood; these showings were cancelled due to inclement weather on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Garrett encourages students who are unable to attend on-campus ceremonies and presentations to visit the Women’s Center in Lawrence 220 for a one-on-one discussion of the topics covered.