Mabel Dwight was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. She received her formal art education at the Hopkins School of Art in San Francisco. Although initially trained as a painter, she learned lithography while in Paris in 1927, and the balance of her career was devoted to printmaking. During the late 1930s, Dwight participated in the Federal Arts Project in New York City. Throughout her career she exhibited regularly, and her prints were actively collected by public art museums and private collectors.
Commonplace activities or views of daily life often provide the subject matter for Dwight's prints. A characteristic example is the lithograph Farm Yard, which dates from 1947, late in her career. It is a modest scene, showing a woman feeding ducks, geese, and chickens in the farmyard. The buildings have the quality of doll houses; tightly packed, they provide a backdrop for the woman and her flock. This quiet domestic scene is rendered with soft strokes of the lithographic crayon, in a style similar to that of regionalist artists such as Thomas Hart Benton, Grant Wood, and John Steuart Curry. Dwight's other works often display a humorous or satirical approach, about which she wrote an essay, "Satire in Art," published in 1936.
[This is an excerpt from the interactive companion program to the videodisc American Art from the National Gallery of Art. Produced by the Department of Education Resources, this teaching resource is one of the Gallery's free-loan educational programs.]