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Targets (detail), 1992, by Emma Amos (Amos Family, courtesy RYAN LEE Gallery)
Targets (detail), 1992, by Emma Amos (American, 1937–2020) (Amos Family, courtesy RYAN LEE Gallery)

Emma Amos: Color Odyssey

October 10, 2021–January 16, 2022

“Every time I think about color, it’s a political statement.”
—Emma Amos

Across her prolific career as a pioneering artist, educator, and activist, Emma Amos (American, 1937–2020) created boldly colorful and innovative works that explore the intersections of race and gender in American life. This exhibition surveys her body of work from the 1950s to the 2010s for the first time, spotlighting her inventive approach to printmaking, painting, and weaving as well as her signature practice of combining distinctive materials and artistic techniques. Amos’s works investigate identity and privilege while unsettling the lines between figuration and abstraction, craft and fine art, beauty and power.

Main Building

Media Gallery

Get a sneak peek at key works in this exhibition.

Watch: Learn about the forces that shaped Emma Amos’s life and work. (Produced by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2021. Photo: Amos with work from the Subway Series, c. 1980s. © Emma Amos, courtesy of estate of artist and RYAN LEE Gallery

About the Artist

Born in segregated Atlanta and educated in Ohio and London, Emma Amos settled in New York City in the early 1960s. From her early days as a member of the influential Black artist collective Spiral to her participation in the activist group Guerrilla Girls, to her professorship at the Mason Gross School of Art at Rutgers University, Amos made resolutely political art that resists simple political slogans. Instead, she used an array of artistic materials to better sit with the many messy, beautiful, and shameful dimensions of American life.

the artistArtist Emma Amos, 2011, by Becket Logan (Amos Family, courtesy RYAN LEE Gallery)


The exhibition is organized by the Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia. This program is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts, University of Georgia. At the Georgia Museum of Art, additional support was provided by the W. Newton Morris Foundation and the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art.


In Philadelphia, Emma Amos: Color Odyssey is made possible by the Kathleen C. and John J. F. Sherrerd Fund for Exhibitions, the Lenore G. Tawney Foundation, Emily and Mike Cavanagh, and other generous donors.


The organizing curator is Shawnya L. Harris, PhD, the Larry D. and Brenda A. Thompson Curator of African American and African Diasporic Art at the Georgia Museum of Art.

In Philadelphia, the exhibition is curated by Laurel Garber, Park Family Assistant Curator of Prints and Drawings.
Explore More

Discover additional stories and items related to this exhibition.

In the accompanying catalogue, view essays about the artist as well as photographs of works in the show.
Learn how Emma Amos pushed etching to its limits.
Members of the collective Black Women of Print discuss Amos’s legacy.
Read about the divergent careers of Emma Amos and Jasper Johns.
In this talk, art historian Lisa Farrington considers the use of fabric in Amos’s work.

Check out other exhibitions

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