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Art HERstory: Emma Amos


Art HERstory: Emma Amos

Art HERstory: Emma Amos

Learning is an ongoing task. Everyday we all read, hear, or see something new. The question is, what good is that knowledge if you don’t share it with others? Emma Amos (1938 – ) understands the value of sharing all she learns with those following the path she just completed. She is a triple threat artist: painter, print maker, weaver. On top of all that greatness, she’s a Georgia native like me!

'Tina, Toni, Lena.' A work honoring three great African-American women: Tina Turner, Toni Morrison, and Lena Horne.

'Tina, Toni, Lena.' A work honoring three great African-American women: Tina Turner, Toni Morrison, and Lena Horne.

Art came natural to Emma. As a tot she was a paintbrush’s worst nightmare. Pencils and crayons too. They were no match for her vivid imagination and obsession with color. To this day Emma still uses as many colors as possible in her work. At the age of sixteen, Emma entered public school in Atlanta. The year was 1954, so of course the public school system was still divided by race. She eventually made it out of the  segregated South and entered a five-year program at Antioch University in Yellow River, Ohio. Despite the times, Emma was able to study abroad during her forth year. She spent the entire school year at London Central School of Art. She returned to the States for her final year and graduated from Antioch with a Bachelor of Arts degree.

'Higher and Higher.' This triptych is one of my favorite pieces. It shows the evolution of the African-American race from slavery to equal treatment.

'Higher and Higher.' This triptych is one of my favorite pieces. It shows the evolution of the African-American race from slavery to equal treatment.

All that bookwork and training paid off in 1960. A year after earning her second degree in etching, Emma held her first solo exhibition in the ATL. She moved to New York City the same year and took a gig as an assistant educator at the Dalton School. She never stopped painting. In 1961 she changed professions and became a designer/weaver for a major textile manufacturer. She stuck with weaving for a few years, but education came calling once again. This time the call came from New York University. Her concentration this time around was a combination of her two loves. She was an Art Education major. She earned her Master of Arts in 1966.

'Twined Flowers.' Growing up in segregated Atlanta, Emma knew a thing or two about division of the races. With this painting, she brings us all together. All shades of skin.

'Twined Flowers.' Growing up in segregated Atlanta, Emma knew a thing or two about division of the races. With this painting, she brings us all together. All shades of skin.

Finally done with school, Emma focused more on her personal life. She married and had two kids. While taking care of her two little ones as a stay at home mom, Emma had one of the coolest jobs ever! She was an illustrator for Sesame Street Magazine! Just imagine sharing coffee with Big Bird and the Count. Could life get any better?

'Sand Tan.' Here Emma steers away from her free use of color. Though simple, this painting is equally beautiful. She still managed to slip in a traditional African pattern too.

'Sand Tan.' Here Emma steers away from her free use of color. Though simple, this painting is equally beautiful. She still managed to slip in a traditional African pattern too.

Before retiring completely Emma returned to teaching. She taught at the Newark School of Fine and Industrial Arts and Rutgers University until June 2008. Since retirement, Emma continues to create in her NoHo home. She is also a member of the Board of Governors of Skowhegan and in the National Academy Museum.

Image Layout: Phaymiss


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