Elizabeth Olds was a prolific and accomplished printmaker with a lifelong commitment to an art of social issues and empathy for working people. Born in Minneapolis, she moved to New York City to study at the Art Student League under George Luks and other social realists. In 1925, she went to Europe and the next year became the first woman to win a Guggenheim Fellowship, which she used to study in Europe for the following four years. Returning to the United States in 1929, she was moved to document the harsh realities of the Depression, making a series of lithographs about the conditions of the stockyards of Omaha, Nebraska, for the animals and the laborers.
In 1935, Olds returned to New York City and worked for the Federal Art Project’s graphic division, shortly thereafter joining the Artists Union, the Artists Congress, and the Graphic Division of the FAP/WPA. Putting her ideals of making art available to the people into practice, in 1939, she established the FAP’s Silk Screen Unit and continued to mass-produce her art. She also published political illustrations in The New Masses, The New Republic and Fortune magazines and wrote and illustrated children’s books. She lived on Long Island for many years, moving to Florida in 1971. Her works are in the collections of numerous museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, and those of the Universities of Georgia, Michigan and Minnesota.
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“Elizabeth Olds.” International Fine Print Dealers Association. 2009-2014. http://www.ifpda.org/content/node/1657 (19 January 2015).
“Picasso Study Club.” Smithsonian Amercian Art Museum. http://americanart.si.edu/collections/search/artwork/?id=19001 (19 January 2015).