Amalia Amaki: Boxes, Buttons, and the Blues

Installation view of a gallery space. On a white wall, big letters in blue say:
Jun 10 to Sep 11, 2005

NMWA presents Amalia Amaki: Boxes, Buttons and the Blues, an exhibition featuring the works of Amalia Amaki. For more than three decades, Amalia Amaki (b. 1949) has garnered acclaim for works that examine the beauty, music, experience, and contributions that black people continually make in America. The exhibition features photographs, quilts, souvenir fans, mixed media works, and more recently completed digitally manipulated photographs, examining the breadth and scope of Amaki’s career thus far.

Incorporating fabric, beads, pearls, buttons, paint, glitter, and digitally manipulated photographs with cultural symbols and visual puns, Amaki challenges and reconfigures American history in original and meaningful ways. Amaki, a native of Atlanta, Georgia, combines her fascination with seemingly disparate sources such as buttons, familial history, film, and Man Ray to examine the breadth and overarching significance of heritage and American culture.

Amaki is perhaps best known for mixed media quilts that celebrate the lives of African American women blues singers and button-encrusted cyanotypes. Presented chronologically and in three thematic sections, this retrospective, which requires a minimum of 4,500 square feet features 80 works and examines the evolution of Amaki’s extraordinary career.

Amalia Amaki is an artist, art historian, curator, and scholar of American art and culture. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Georgia State University, a Bachelor’s degree in photography and painting from the University of New Mexico, and a Doctorate from the Graduate Institute of Liberal Arts at Emory University. Currently, she is the Curator of the Paul R. Jones Collection and Assistant Professor of Black American Studies at the University of Delaware. Her work is in the permanent collections at numerous museums including the High Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts (Houston, TX), the Minnesota Museum of Art, Emory University (Atlanta, GA), and the Hammonds House Galleries (Atlanta).

A close-up, blurred, square portrait of a woman’s face entirely in shades of deep blue. Her skin is smooth, her eyebrows are neat, her eyelashes are defined, and she appears to be wearing lipstick.

Amalia Amaki, Blue Lady, 2004; Digital Print, 29 x 30 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Museum purchase: The Lois Pollard Price Acquisition Fund