Emma Amos Awarded Larry D. and Brenda A. Thompson Award

Emma Amos. Photo: courtesy of the artistAt a February 26, 2016 ceremony, Emma Amos received the 2016 Larry D. and Brenda A. Thompson Award from the Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia. The award is for her contribution, as a Georgia native, to visual art. Since her debut art exhibition, in Atlanta in 1960, Amos has had a successful career in painting, printing, weaving, textile design, craft, illustration and art education. Her work is characterized by a complex use of color, composition and abstract representations; it has also focused heavily on the historic representation of black subjects in art. The Georgia Museum of Art is planning a major retrospective of her work.

Emma Amos was born in 1938 and grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, where her parents owned a drugstore. She began painting and drawing when she was six. At age 16, after attending segregated public schools in Atlanta, she entered the five-year program at Antioch University in Yellow Springs, Ohio. She spent her fourth year abroad at the London Central School of Art, studying printmaking, painting, and weaving. After receiving a BA from Antioch, she returned to the Central School to earn a diploma in etching in 1959.

Amos’s first solo exhibition was in an Atlanta gallery in 1960. In that same year she moved to New York, where she taught as an assistant at the Dalton School and continued her work as an artist by making prints. In 1961 she was hired by Dorothy Liebes as a designer/weaver, creating rugs for a major textile manufacturer. In 1964 she entered a master’s program in Art Education at New York University. During this time Hale Woodruff invited her to become a member of Spiral, a group of black artists that included Romare Bearden, Norman Lewis, and Charles Alston. She was the group’s youngest and only female member. In 1980, Amos was hired as an assistant professor at the Mason Gross School of Art, Rutgers University. She earned tenure in 1992, was later promoted to Professor II, and served as chair of the department from 2005 to 2007. She continued teaching there until she retired in June 2008.

Amos’s work has been exhibited internationally and is included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Wadsworth Atheneum, the New Jersey and Minnesota state museums, and the Dade County and Newark museums. She has won prestigious awards and grants.

She continues to work in her studio in NoHo, New York City. She lectures and participates in symposiums, and shows the work nationally. She also serves on the Board of Governors of Skowhegan and in the National Academy Museum.