Figural Depiction:

Black Bodies in the Works of Amos, Billops and Tanksley

A show consisting of prints from the K. Caraccio Collection, Curated by Morghan Williams 

Featured Artists: Emma Amos, Camille Billops, Ann Tanksley

Figural Depiction: Black Bodies in the Works of Amos, Billops, and Tanksley examines the aesthetic qualities of three black women artists, their depictions of black women and black identities, and acknowledges their contributions to printmaking as well as their contributions to the broader art world.


One of the foundational questions often posed when discussing work produced by African American artists is, what is black art? This question, which initially appears to be a simple inquiry, is complex and multifaceted. It can be argued that there is no such thing as “black art” but rather artwork produced by African Americans and people belonging to the African diaspora whose content, aesthetic values, and modes of production vary to a great extent. Over the past several decades, African American artists have reflected on or responded to specific histories as well as social and political climates in their work while others have chosen not to. This particular dichotomy stresses a historical tension within visual articulation; abstract versus figural. 


Artists Emma Amos (1938), Camille Billops (1933 - 2019), and Ann Tanksley (1934) have produced an immense amount of the material over the span of their respective careers that place emphasis on the black body and female form. Emma Amos uses a silk aquatint technique, the result of a collaboration between herself and master printer Kathy Caraccio, to produce prints depicting the black body and various forms of portraiture. Camille Billops’ relief prints visually articulate the black body and elements of black experience by directly referencing or alluding to specific histories such as racism in America. Ann Tanksley’s drypoint prints and photo etchings similarly depict the figure and focus in on themes centered around African American experience and community.

Figural Depiction: Black Bodies in the Works of Amos, Billops, and Tanksley aims to highlight the artworks of these African American women and their contributions to this ongoing dialogue about black representation, depiction, experience, and identity.


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