The Artist's Voice: Spiral Icon Emma Amos

Emma Amos
Yo Man Ray Yo, 2000
Courtesy the artist

In response to Man Ray’s Noire et Blanche (1926), Yo Man Ray Yo (2000) depicts two women –both beautiful in their own respects—who gaze at each other and affirm that women are real, not objects.

Emma Amos
Work Suit, 1994
Courtesy the artist
Based on a Lucien Freud self portrait, Amos paints her head on Freud’s nude body as a reaction against the privileges of white male artists.

Esteemed artist Emma Amos and Assistant Curator, Lauren Haynes were the latest to sit down for The Artist’s Voice, a conversation series at the Studio Museum on Thursday, September 29th.

If you are a fan of Emma Amos, then you know that the she is anything but ordinary. The artist, like her work, is vibrant, poignant, and remarkably expressive.

In conjunction with the Spiral: Perspectives on an African-American Art Collective exhibition, Amos spoke about her time in Spiral and her most memorable experiences as a member of the group. Founded after the March on Washington, Spiral included iconic African-American artists such as Norman Lewis, Hale Woodruff, and Romare Bearden. Amos noted that the struggles of Spiral artists exist for artists of African descent today; art institutions do not always include black artists in the canon of historically significant artists.

As the youngest and only female member of Spiral, and one of its few surviving members, Amos provided a rare perspective on what it meant to be a black, female artist in the 1960s and what it means to today.

Audience members had the treat of listening to Amos discuss iconic and lesser known artworks from her oeuvre, which spans over five decades. Throughout the conversation it became clear that Amos is as much an advocate for women as she is an advocate for people of color. In her usual fiery fashion, Amos provided us with her views on race, feminism, and perceptions of beauty.

Make sure to visit the Museum to see Amos’s work in Spiral: Perspectives on an African-American Art Collective before it closes on October 23rd!