University Museums

Title: Washtub Blues
Name: Woodcut print
Date: 2000
Medium: Woodcut on unbleached Thai mulberry paper
Country/Culture: American
Dimensions: 30 x 22 in. (76.2 x 55.9 cm)
Classification: Prints and Printing Plates
Credit Line: Gift of Diane Greenlee for the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women in Politics. In the Art on Campus Collection, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
Location: Iowa State University, Carrie Chapman Catt Hall, Exterior, South
Object Number: U2003.34
More Information
A lot of my work has explored the role of women--African American women in particular--and their role in the economic survival of families. On a personal level, I have a deep sense of belonging to that group by the mundane tasks I do. When I was thinking about this print for the Women of the West Museum, it occurred to me that most of the famous black women in the West began as laundresses or cooks. They were self-made survivors who became property owners, who achieved success by starting from the bottom. Often, they used their money to help others. Ultimately they are heroic. They made their menial, unrewarding work meaningful, maybe not for themselves but for others. Housekeepers and nannies have a huge impact on people's lives and they are rarely recognized. Often they're invisible; you don't even notice them. That's why in this print of a laundress you see her from behind, with her face reflected in the tub of water.

--Alison Saar