Scope and Contents
The papers of African American painter and printmaker Emma Amos measure 37.1 linear feet and date from circa 1900 to 2019. The collection documents Amos's family history, her professional life, and the intersection of her heritage and artwork. Found in the collection are biographical materials, family and inherited papers, correspondence, writings, project and exhibition files, teaching files, other professional records, personal business records, printed and photographic materials, and artwork.
Biographical materials include Amos's student records from Antioch and New York Universities, her personal Bible, resumes, and video recordings of interviews with bell hooks and Moira Roth. The Amos family and inherited papers of close family friends contain photographs, scrapbooks, correspondence, and memorabilia from Fisk University.
Correspondence is with colleagues at galleries, museums, and arts organizations regarding exhibitions, the Spiral artist group, and Amos's other professional activities, as well as her personal letters with friends and family.
Also found in the collection are writings that include drafts, published copies of essays, autobiographical writings, lecture video recordings, mock-ups of book projects, and a few writings by others. Project and exhibition files are for the television show Show of Hands (1977), The Sky's the Limit installation at IS90, Emma Amos: Paintings and Prints 1982-1992 retrospective exhibition, and the Ralph David Abernathy Memorial Project. Teaching files are from Rutgers University where she served as Chair of Visual Arts at the Mason Gross School of the Arts.
Amos's files for her other professional activities document fellowships and residencies, memberships, presentations at conferences and workshops, travel, and exhibitions she curated such as Progressions: A Cultural Legacy (1986), also co-curated by Julia Hotton and Vivian Browne, and Resisting Categories: Finding Common Ground. Personal business records include gallery files, datebooks, donation and loan records, ledgers and sales books, invoices and receipts, and studio supply records.
Printed materials contain clippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs, magazines and journals, and video recordings of the documentary Emma Amos: Action Lines featuring Amos and her artwork. Photographic materials consist of photographic prints, negatives, transparencies, photographic digital prints, slides, photographs albums, and 1 electronic disc of Amos, family and friends, parties and events, art models, snapshots, and works of art. Artwork contains mainly preparatory and source materials created and collected by Amos for use in her work.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The collection was donated in 2020 by Emma Amos as part of the Archives' African American Collecting Initiative funded by the Henry Luce Foundation.
Also in the Archives of American Art are: Oral history interview with Emma Amos, 1968 October 3 and Oral history interview of Emma Amos, 2011 November 19-26.
The collection was processed by Rayna Andrews and Sarah Mundy, and a finding aid prepared by Sarah Mundy in 2022.