Emma Amos (b. 1938 Atlanta, GA) is a distinguished painter and printmaker. She was the youngest and only woman member of Spiral, the historic African American collective founded in 1963, as well as a member of the important feminist collective, Heresies, founded in the 1980s. Influenced by modern Western European art, Abstract Expressionism, the Civil Rights movement and feminism, Amos explores the politics of culture and issues of racism, sexism and ethnocentrism through her paintings and works on paper. Her six-decade career considers color theory, texture, innovative printmaking techniques, photo-transfer and collage to engage the art historical canon and how women and Black bodies have been represented within it.
Amos graduated from Antioch College in Ohio in 1958 and the Central School of Art in London in 1960. She subsequently moved to New York and became active in the downtown arts scene, working alongside prominent Spiral artists such as Romare Bearden, Hale Woodruff, Norman Lewis, Alvin Hollingsworth, and Charles Alston. In 1965, she earned her Masters in Arts from New York University and taught art at the Dalton School in New York. She is also a former Professor and former Chair in Visual Arts at the Mason Gross School of Art at Rutgers University where she taught for 28 years. Amos still lives and works in downtown Manhattan.
Her work is held in the collections of the Bass Museum of Art, Miami; Birmingham Museum of Art; British Museum,London; Bronx Museum of Art, New York; Fowler Museum of Art, Los Angeles; James F. Byrnes Institute, Stuttgart, DE; Museo de las Artes, Guadalajara, MX; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Newark Museum; Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York and Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, among others. Amos’s prints were included in the British Museum’s 2017 American Dream exhibition, and her paintings are included in Tate Modern’s Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power and Brooklyn Museum’s We Wanted A Revolution: Black Radical Women,1965-85. Amos received Georgia Museum of Art’s Larry D. and Brenda A. Thompson prize in 2016, and in the same year Studio Museum in Harlem honored Emma Amos as an Icon, along with Faith Ringgold and Lorraine O’Grady.