WASHINGTON, DC.- The National Gallery of Art
has recently acquired five works on paper (four prints and one collaged paper-pulp work) made from the 1960s to the early 2000s by the artist and activist Emma Amos (19372020). These works are examples of Amos's engagement with issues of feminism, racism, and power dynamics in imagery that does not always appear overtly political.
Amos was the youngest and only female member of the important New York artist collective Spiral, which was formed in response to the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. Founded by Richard Mayhew, Romare Bearden, and Hale Woodruff, the collective served as a forum for African American artists to discuss their role in America's rapidly changing political and cultural landscape. They explored ideas such as whether "black art" can or should be definedissues that continue to be debated today.
Amos went on to contribute to the important feminist art journal Heresies and purportedly participated in the Guerrilla Girls, an activist group of anonymous women artists who protest injustices in the art world. Throughout her career Amos faced prejudice against both her race and gender, and she primarily showed her art in exhibitions that featured black and/or women artists. Amos's employment and family life also limited her artistic production, contributing to her mostly small and often experimental printed editions that have slight variations, such as collaged or other unique elements, as seen in several of the works acquired by the Gallery.
These five works on paper join one print diptych by Amos in the Gallery's collection.