Mabel Dwight


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Printmaker and painter. Best known as a lithographer of subjects from contemporary life, she believed that the artist must function as an agent of social justice. While some scenes carry a satirical edge, others empathize with the difficult lives of ordinary workers. Born in Cincinnati, in 1921 Mabel Jacque Williamson took the name of Dwight. She grew up mostly in New Orleans. In San Francisco in the 1890s, she studied at the Hopkins School of Art, where Arthur Mathews ranked as her most important teacher. After moving to New York in 1903, she was married to Eugene Higgins from 1906 until 1917. Following additional study in Paris, as well as travel in Europe and Asia, in her fifties she took up lithography. Her first major work in this medium comprised a set of picturesque views of Paris, done before her return to the United States in 1928. Known by the mid-1930s as a leading printmaker, she participated actively from 1935 until 1939 in the WPA's federal art project in New York. Among lithographs produced under its auspices, Silence (undated) gives an affectionate view of a library reading room crowded with assorted studious types absorbed in their books. Depicting heavily burdened dockworkers, Banana Men (1936) treats the hardworking poor with dignity, betokening the conscience that had attracted her to socialism as a young woman. In later years, she lived in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where she died in Sellersville.

Subjects: Art.

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