Emma Amos: Color Odyssey @ Philadelphia Museum of Art
“Every time I think about color, it’s a political statement.” —Emma Amos
Across her prolific career as a pioneering artist, educator, and activist, Emma Amos (American, 1937–2020) created boldly colorful and innovative works that explore the intersections of race and gender in American life. This exhibition surveys her body of work from the 1950s to the 2010s for the first time, spotlighting her inventive approach to printmaking, painting, and weaving as well as her signature practice of combining distinctive materials and artistic techniques. Amos’s works investigate identity and privilege while unsettling the lines between figuration and abstraction, craft and fine art, beauty and power.
Born in segregated Atlanta and educated in Ohio and London, Emma Amos settled in New York City in the early 1960s. From her early days as a member of the influential Black artist collective Spiral to her participation in the activist group Guerrilla Girls, to her professorship at the Mason Gross School of Art at Rutgers University, Amos made resolutely political art that resists simple political slogans. Instead, she used an array of artistic materials to better sit with the many messy, beautiful, and shameful dimensions of American life.