Figural Depiction

Figural Depiction: Black Bodies in the Works of Amos, Billops, and Tanksley

Emma Amos, Camille Billops, Ann Tanksley 

(Selection by Morghan Williams)

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.

 

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.

Emma Amos

Pool Lady

Etching w/ Aquatint

1980 

I: 23.25” x 21.5”

P: 32” x 28.5”

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.

Emma Amos

On Top of the World

Silk Aquatint; Fabric

1996

I: 30” x 22”

P: Bleed

Emma Amos

Chance to Sit 

Etching w/ Aquatint

1983

I: 23.75” x 35”

P: 29.75” x 41.5”

Emma Amos

Untitled 

Creatures of the Night Set

Silk Aquatint in Color 

1985

I: 22.25” x 30”

P: Bleed

Emma Amos

Mountain Gorilla

Creatures of the Night Set

Silk Collagraph

1985

I: 22” x 30”

P: Bleed

Emma Amos

Mandrill 

Creatures of the Night Set

Silk Collagraph

1985

I: 22.25” x 30”

P: Bleed

Emma Amos

Untitled

Creatures of the Night Set

Silk Aquatint

1985

I: 22” x 30”

P: Bleed

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.

Camille Billops

I am Black, I am Black, I am Dangerously Black

Relief Print

1973

I: 11.75” x 17”

P: 22.25” x 26.5”

Camille Billops

Brown on Black Dancers 

Relief Print

1976

I: 18.5" x 13.75"

P: 29.5" x 22.25"

Camille Billops

KKK Boutique

Etching

1996

I: 11.75" x 9.75"

P: 19.5" x 12.75"

 Ann Tanksley’s drypoint prints and photo etchings similarly depict the figure and focus in on themes centered around African American experience and community.

Ann Tanksley

Untitled 

Silk Aquatint

2011

I: 4.75” x 7”

P: 11” x 14”

Ann Tanksley

Untitled

Polymer Photo Etching

2006

I: 10” x 7”

P: 15” x 11”

Ann Tanksley

Untitled 

Polymer Photo Etching

2006

I: 10” x 7”

P: 15” x 11”

Ann Tanksley

Oracle II 

Solarplate

2007

I: 5” x 7”

P: 15” x 11”

Ann Tanksley

Corralled 

Dry Point

2006

I: 5.5" x 7"

P: 11" x 15"

CONTACT

+1 (212) 594-9662

315 West 39th Street

New York, NY 10018

kathy@kcaraccio.com

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