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Mother and Child
Mother and Child, c. 1956
Elizabeth Catlett, American
11 1/2 x 5 3/4 x 6 5/8 inches (29.2 x 14.6 x 16.8 cm)
125th Anniversary Acquisition. Purchased with funds contributed by Willabell Clayton, Dr. Constance E. Clayton, and Mr. and Mrs. James B. Straw in honor of the 125th Anniversary of the Museum and in celebration of African American art, 2000
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Let's Look

  • What adjectives would you use to describe this mother and child?
  • What feelings does this sculpture give you? Why?
  • What is it made of?
  • The figures are simplified. What details were left out? Why do you think so?
  • What solid forms, planes, and angles are repeated?

Second Looks

  • Do you think the mother and child are poor, working class, middle class, or wealthy? Why?
  • How would you describe their racial and ethnic background?
  • How big is this sculpture?
  • Is it a portrait of a specific woman or a symbol of motherhood? What makes you think so?

Connect and Compare

  • Explore the theme of mother and child in art produced by people from a range of cultures and time periods.
  • In small groups, discuss the rights that all children should have. Then write a Children's Bill of Rights.
  • Compare Catlett's work to that of other women artists who made art with a social message, such as Alice Neel, Dorothea Lange, and Käthe Kollwitz.


Related Art Project

Discuss what people everywhere have in common and how our experiences differ. What thoughts and feelings do you have about your gender, economic status, ethnic or racial background, and age? Make a self-portrait expressing your identity. At different stages in the creative process, meet in small groups to give and receive feedback on your work. Keep a journal to record the group discussions and your responses to the collective process.

For more information, please contact The Division of Education by phone at (215) 684-7580, by fax at (215) 236-4063, or by e-mail at .

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