image of back of a person's head with overlapping cornrows on top, giving way to natural, curly black hair, accented with brown and orange; arch of thin black lines over top of head, with orange and brown color around head as well

%C2%A9 Emma Amos %2F Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society %28ARS%29%2C New York

Crown, 2002

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American painter, printmaker, and textile artist Emma Amos is an insightful observer of Black experience. Her wide-ranging and often self-referential work emphasizes the intrinsic dignity of African Americans by countering negative stereotypes that too often undermine the values and virtues of Black history and culture. In Crown, Amos depicts the head of an African American woman seen from behind, emphasizing her large mane of natural (unaltered) hair, partly braided in cornrows. In contemporary Black culture, natural hair is seen by many as symbolic of racial pride and consciousness and integral to one’s personal identity. Here, the anonymous female subject serves as a symbol of affirmation and resistance, specifically the resistance to cultural suppression and the practice of being defined by others. Amos’ title suggests two distinct meanings, one referring to the braided portion of the subject’s hair, the second denoting the crown as a symbol of authority, understood here as self-determination.

Details
Title
Crown
Artist Life
1938 - 2020
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2019.132.5
Provenance
The artist, New York; (Mary Ryan Gallery, New York, sold to Mersky October 2019); Robert B. Mersky, Minneapolis; given to MIA, 2019.
Curator Approved

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image of back of a person's head with overlapping cornrows on top, giving way to natural, curly black hair, accented with brown and orange; arch of thin black lines over top of head, with orange and brown color around head as well

© Emma Amos / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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