We’ll write our names with steam dyed crimson, we will cut the hand to the edge so that our meat completes it.
Here we will die.
Here, in the last passage.
Here or there… our blood will plant its olive trees.
In the black and white photographic series Night is the New Day, Rebeca Martell evokes the recognition of the strangeness that she experiences looking at in exile. Between surprise and nostalgia, Martell moves towards the redefinition of herself, cautiously exploring the places she sees and the people who inhabit them. With a foreign lens, looks for the moment that sublimates the experience of herself, that captivates the feeling of being in the dark leaving behind the memories of the tropic, like running away from a bad dream.
Martell’s camera is the vehicle that intervenes between her gaze and the other; where the faces are not recognized, where the blur in the images is the metaphor of the distance between the self and the beings that inhabit reality. Martell utilizes the absence of light to blur the very act of looking. Martell’s work not only sublimates emotions but is also a lonely walk; the cold and silence, the memories that inhabit the memory.
The images of Night is the New Day are an evocation of what the darkness hides from the eye, what cannot be perceived by the naked eye, the ghost of the absent light during the winter that only leaves in its wake a few shades. Rebeca Martell makes use of photography to portray her days of winter in Sweden while, at the same time offers us a testimonial of a look that becomes raw, powerless and unprotected against others and before her own process of self-recognition. She portrays the moment where the connection between the gaze and the soul is created, right there where it appears what cannot be shown with the naked eye, where she reaches the image from the furthest part of the unconscious.
Liliana Marcos Lozano, 2022
Rebeca Martell bio: Rebeca Martell, an independent photographer, trained at UNAM, Centro de la Imagen, Jumex Collection, Philadelphia Photo Arts, Rufino Tamayo Museum, Alameda Art Laboratory, and Photoespaña.
Her work has been exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Oaxaca, the Barnes Foundation, X-Teresa Arte Actual, the Sebastián Foundation, Brukenthal National Museum of Contemporary Art in Romania, Philadelphia Photo Arts, and the National Auditorium; as well as in the Mexican embassy in Spain, Belgium, Lithuania, Hungary, Greece, Holland, France, San Pedro Museum of Art, and in the Juan C. Méndez PhotoMuseum, as well as having been a winner at the eighth State Meeting of Contemporary Art in Puebla, Mexico.
Philiput presents: Rebeca Martell – Night is the New Day photographic art by Rebeca Martell, curated by Devin Cohen, curatorial text by Liliana Marcos Lozano
Philadelphia Museum of Art to Present First Major Retrospective Exhibition Dedicated to Emma Amos (1937–2020)
October 11, 2021–January 17, 2022
Morgan Galleries and Jane and Leonard Korman Galleries 150–153
In October, the Philadelphia Museum of Art will present the first major retrospective exhibition of the work of Emma Amos. As a member of the Black artist collective, Spiral, in the mid-1960s, an active participant in the Guerilla Girls of the 1980s, and a pathbreaking multimedia artist until her death in 2020, Amos made vibrant, witty, and passionate works that challenge, unsettle, and sometimes altogether reject the dominant visual codes of American life. Across her prolific career, Amos’s art explored the links among personal biography, history, and the politics of race and gender in America. Organized by the Georgia Museum of Art, Emma Amos: Color Odyssey surveys Amos’s body of work from the late 1950s to the 2010s for the first time, highlighting her bold approach to printmaking, painting, and weaving, and the distinctive combination of disparate materials and artistic techniques that she employed to produce works of unmistakable artistic and critical charge.
In an interview in 1991, Amos remarked, “Every time I think about color, it’s a political statement.” The exhibition will explore the rich implications of that claim, following the ways in which Amos’s works investigate aspects of identity and privilege while unsettling the lines between figuration and abstraction, craft and fine art, beauty, and power. Emma Amos: Color Odyssey will begin with the artist’s early years when, finding her way to New York by way of London, she would become the youngest and only female member of Spiral, which formed in response to the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. These early works reveal an artist beginning to connect an interest in abstract expressionism to problems of figuration and subjectivity posed by the realities of American racism, with Amos exploring the significance of color as it relates to the Black female body. This subject would go on to become a major focal point throughout Amos’s career as she began to engage more deeply with mediums such as weaving and printmaking and to participate in the feminist and multicultural debates of the 1970s and 1980s.
The exhibition is organized chronologically and thematically, tracking how Amos pushed her painting, weaving, and printmaking practices and often combined these media to better represent the grace, beauty, and power of Black figures, from anonymous models to leaders such as Paul Robeson and Zora Neale Hurston. Color Odyssey follows Amos’s deepening critical investigation into the centrality of race and gender to the values of Western art, notably though the making of massive multimedia works that interrogate the power and authority of the artist. The Philadelphia presentation of the exhibition will give emphasis to the ways in which these thematic and political concerns pushed Amos to experiment widely with materials and techniques, particularly in print.
Highlights among the early works include the painting Godzilla, 1966 (Munson Williams Proctor Institute of Art) which features three front-facing seated women, one of whom is nude, another is seen clothed, and a middle figure appears faceless. Each figure is depicted with brownish limbs of various skin tones while the overall composition offers a rich arrangement of gestural forms placed in combination with flat, unmodulated swathes of contrasting color. The artist returns to the theme of the female trinity in 3 Ladies, 1970 (Philadelphia Museum of Art), a color etching, printed relief, and screen print in which lyrical gestural elements have given way to a sharp juxtaposition of graphic shapes that convey the artist’s virtuosity. This experimental, five-part composition underscores her ongoing pre-occupation with femme-centric themes. Among the notable works of the artist’s later production is Tightrope, 1994 (Minneapolis Institute of Art) which illustrates, in bold acrylic colors on linen with African textile borders, the monumental struggles Amos faced as an artist without the privileges afforded to white masculinity. In this monumental narrative self-portrait, Amos resolutely strides across a tightrope while donning a Wonder Woman costume that is only partially concealed under an artist’s smock. In one hand, she indignantly raises a T shirt emblazoned with an image of the naked torso of Gauguin’s Tahitian child bride while in the other she confidently wields a pair of paint brushes against a night sky.
The organizing curator for Emma Amos: Color Odyssey is Dr. Shawnya L. Harris, Larry D. and Brenda A. Thompson Curator of African American and African Diasporic Art at the Georgia Museum of Art. “Coming of age during the countercultural movements of the 1960s and straddling various artistic movements from abstract expressionism to pop art, Amos reckoned with issues of race, class, and gender roles that emerged in the development of her style,” Dr. Harris said. “Her imaginative and sometimes satirical take on cultural difference shifted and grew richer over the decades, merging various media and blurring categories of fine and applied arts as a form of resistance.”
At the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the exhibition is curated by Laurel Garber, the Park Family Assistant Curator of Prints and Drawings, with the assistance of Theresa A. Cunningham, Margaret R. Mainwaring Curatorial Fellow. Garber, who wrote the catalog’s essay on Amos’s prints, added: “The sweep of Amos’s career opens a window onto an artistic practice that is guided by a rich creative and political engagement in American life. Her work is at once approachable and challenging, inviting reflections on identity, beauty, and femininity. Throughout her career, Amos worked in a wide range of printmaking techniques, including intaglio, screen print, monotype, and collagraphy, and we will show the broad range of innovative editions, monoprints, and other printed works on paper so that visitors can fully appreciate the interconnectedness of her vision across media.”
Emma Amos: Color Odyssey is accompanied by a major scholarly volume of the same title, edited by Dr. Shawnya L. Harris, and published in hardback by the Georgia Museum of Art (ISBN: 9780915977468). This catalogue includes an introductory essay by Dr. Harris and contributions by the artists Kay Walkingstick and LaToya Ruby Frazier, each of whom offers a personal reflection on Amos. Lisa Farrington, Associate Dean for Fine Arts, Howard University, discusses Amos’s place in the history of women artists. Phoebe Wolfskill, Associate Professor of African American and African Diaspora Studies, Indiana University, Bloomington, focuses on the performativity of race and gender in Amos’ work. Laurel Garber explores the artist’s career-long printmaking practice and her collaborations with master printers. The book is available at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Store and may be purchased on site or online via Philamuseum.org.
About Emma Amos
Emma Veoria Amos was born in 1937 in Atlanta, Georgia. Her family owned a drug store established by her father and grandfather, the first Black pharmacist in the state. She attended Antioch College in Ohio, graduating in 1958 with a degree in fine art before moving to London where she earned a diploma in etching at the Central School of Art in the next year. Arriving in New York in 1960, she joined Spiral, the artist activist group which included Romare Bearden, Hale Woodruff, Norman Lewis, and Charles Alston. In 1965, she earned her master’s degree in education from New York University and later taught at the Dalton School in New York. She also held positions as a textile designer and served briefly as a host of a television show about craft. Amos was an important member of Heresies, a feminist magazine founded in 1976 by Joyce Kozloff, Miriam Shapiro, Lucy Lippard, and others. As a member of the Guerilla Girls, Amos protested art world injustices including the unequal representation of women in the arts. In 1980, she began a teaching at Rutgers University, where she would become Professor and Chair of Visual Arts at the Mason Gross School of Art. She retired from Rutgers in 2008. The artist moved in 2019 to Bedford, NH in 2019 where she died the following year. Emma Amos: Color Odyssey premiered in January 2021 at the Georgia Museum of Art and traveled to the Munson Williams Proctor Institute in Utica, NY (through September 12, 2021) before its final stop at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
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, and Emily and Mike Cavanagh.
Kassem Amoudi is a Palestinian Jordanian American artist who came to the US in 1983. He got his MFA from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and now teaches there. The first time I remember seeing one of his paintings was at the Woodmere Art Museum. Like a philosopher Kassem thinks in terms of dualities, pairs of things that complement one another. He told me about one of the greatest of these pairings. – John Thornton, arts videographer
Artists in the Time of Pandemic, Kassem Amoudi
One of the paintings I will show at Cerulean Arts Gallery from the Stripes series. It is a 48×48 Acrylic. The show starts May 5th with social distancing and masks. The opening will be a Virtual tour and talk on Saturday the 8th at 2 pm. You can register for it at the gallery website when they add it. It hasn’t been posted yet because there is another show right now. — Kassem Amoudi
I will be One of the panelists at this webinar at Woodmere Art Museum May 6th at 7. Please click the link to register. Closing Reception (virtual): Group ’55 and Midcentury Abstraction in Philadelphia Presenters: Bill Valerio, Woodmere Director & CEO; Patricia Stark Feinstein, Curator of the Samuel L. Feinstein Trust; Barbara Wolanin, PhD, Curator of the Group ‘55 exhibition; Kassem Amoudi, Artist Join Woodmere in celebrating the art and artists of the Group ‘55 exhibition through an online closing reception. The online program will feature a new film on the exhibition, along with a conversation between Bill Valerio; Patricia Stark Feinstein; Barbara Wolanin, PhD; and Kassem Amoudi. Group ‘55 and Midcentury Abstraction in Philadelphia is on view through Sunday, May 9. This event will be held online via Zoom, and registration is required. Participants will receive event information via email upon registration. Free | 7pm | Click here to register. https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_aCKZqyA-R-WFIqoOgyrUEQ
Thank you to Kassem Amoudi and John Thornton for the content of this post.
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