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Amalia Amaki

Amalia Amaki was born Linda Faye Peeks on July 8, 1949 in Atlanta, Georgia to Mary Lee and Norman Peeks, a former musician with the Deep South Boys of Macon, Georgia. Amaki developed a love for script writing, drawing, bold colors and textures at an early age. She instinctively knew that she would change her name. Amaki attended Georgia State University and majored in journalism and psychology. In 1970, she won the Sigma Delta Chi Award for Feature Writing and was the first and only African American on campus to join this journalism organization. In 1971, Amaki received her B.A. degree. She also obtained her B.A. degree from the University of New Mexico in photography and art history and worked as a museum assistant at the University Art Museum for two years while she pursued her degree. In 1974, she changed her name to Amalia Amaki.

In 1985, Amaki went to France as an Emory University Foreign Study Fellow. She also became a contributing writer to Art Papers and an art critic for Creative Loafing; papers local to the Atlanta area. Amaki earned her M.A. degree in modern European and American art and a Ph.D. in twentieth century American art and culture from Emory University in the Institute of Liberal Arts. From 1987 to 2000, she taught art history at Spelman and Morehouse Colleges; Atlanta College of Art; Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, Georgia; and North Georgia College and State University, Dahlonega, Georgia. She served as a guest curator at the Southern Arts Federation in 1996; the Museum of Fine Arts at Spelman College in 1997 and 1998; the Marietta-Cobb Museum of Art in 1999; and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in 2004. In the summer of 2004, Amaki was a visiting scholar at the Student Art Centers International (SACI) in Florence, Italy. In 2001, she became Curator of the Paul R. Jones Collection of Art and Assistant Professor of Art in the Art History and Black Studies Departments at the University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware. Amaki was also a Scholar-in-Residence at Spelman College in Atlanta for the 2005 – 2006 school year.

Amaki’s art captures the lives of African women of the Diaspora through media from everyday life (photography, quilts, buttons, boxes and household items). Her work redefines the lives of past and present African American heroines and heroes and contrasts their depiction in the mainstream media. She has published a number of articles including “Art: The Paul Jones Collection in Art” and Everyday Life: The Paul Jones Collection, an exhibition catalog by the Marietta-Cobb Museum of Art, Marietta, Georgia in 1999.

Amaki holds memberships in the College of Art Association, American Association of University Professors, Emory University Alumni Board of Governors, Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts, High Museum of Art, Georgia Museum of Art, and Spelman College Museum of Fine Arts. Her solo works, Amalia Amaki: Boxes, Buttons and Blues have also been on exhibition at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C.

Amaki splits her time in Atlanta, Georgia and Newark, Delaware.

Accession Number

A2006.017

Sex

Female

Interview Date

2/15/2006 |and| 9/9/2007

Last Name

Amaki

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Hope-Hill Elementary School

David T. Howard High School

Georgia State University

University of New Mexico

Emory University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Amalia

Birth City, State, Country

Atlanta

HM ID

AMA01

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Santa Fe, New Mexico, Beausoleil, France

Favorite Quote

The Glass Is Always Half Full.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

7/8/1949

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Cookies

Short Description

Mixed media artist, curator, and art history professor Amalia Amaki (1949 - ) has served as the curator of the Paul R. Jones Collection of Art, and as assistant professor of art in the art history and black studies departments at the University of Delaware. She is also a scholar-in-residence in the fine arts department at Spelman College.

Employment

Southern Airways

APEX Museum (Atlanta, Georgia)

Spelman College

University of Delaware

University of Alabama

Paul Jones Collection

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Amalia Amaki's interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Amalia Amaki lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Amalia Amaki describes her mother's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Amalia Amaki describes her mother's cooking

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Amalia Amaki describes her father's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Amalia Amaki describes her parents' childhoods

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Amalia Amaki describes how her parents met, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Amalia Amaki describes her father's occupations

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Amalia Amaki remembers holiday celebrations from her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Amalia Amaki describes her mother's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Amalia Amaki describes how her parents met, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Amalia Amaki shares how her mother began having children

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Amalia Amaki describes her mother's fear of storms

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Amalia Amaki describes her maternal grandparents

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Amalia Amaki describes her mother's siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Amalia Amaki describes her father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Amalia Amaki describes her father's singing career

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Amalia Amaki describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Amalia Amaki recalls drawing at John Hope Elementary School

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Amalia Amaki describes her childhood neighborhood in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Amalia Amaki describes her childhood community in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Amalia Amaki describes her mother's role in the community

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Amalia Amaki recalls attending Wheat Street Baptist Church

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Amalia Amaki describes the department stores in Atlanta, Georgia, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Amalia Amaki recalls the shoe stores in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Amalia Amaki describes the department stores in Atlanta, Georgia, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Amalia Amaki remembers the seamstress in her childhood neighborhood

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Amalia Amaki talks about Auburn Avenue in Atlanta

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Amalia Amaki lists her siblings

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Amalia Amaki explains why her mother changed her name

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Amalia Amaki remembers being teased about her name as a child

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Amalia Amaki explains how she chose her name, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Amalia Amaki explains how she chose her name, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Amalia Amaki recalls her favorite teacher at John Hope Elementary School, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Amalia Amaki recalls her favorite teacher at John Hope Elementary School, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Amalia Amaki describes her childhood personality

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Amalia Amaki describes the games she played with her siblings

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Amalia Amaki recalls playing games with her family

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Amalia Amaki recalls receiving baby chickens for Easter

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Amalia Amaki describes her rebellious personality as a child

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Amalia Amaki recalls Atlanta's Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Amalia Amaki remembers her early career aspirations

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Amalia Amaki describes her high school extracurricular activities

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Amalia Amaki recalls her decision to attend Georgia State College, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Amalia Amaki recalls applying for college

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Amalia Amaki recalls her decision to attend Georgia State College, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Amalia Amaki describes her experience of studying journalism

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Amalia Amaki recalls her induction into the Society of Professional Journalists

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Amalia Amaki explains her B.A. degree in journalism and psychology

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Amalia Amaki describes her experience of racial discrimination at Georgia State College

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Amalia Amaki recalls Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.'s death, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Amalia Amaki recalls Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.'s death, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Amalia Amaki remembers the death of her childhood friend

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Slating of Amalia Amaki's interview, session 2

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Amalia Amaki describes the impact of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.'s death

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Amalia Amaki recalls writing for The Signal

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Amalia Amaki describes her classmates at Georgia State University

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Amalia Amaki remembers inspirational speakers at Georgia State University

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Amalia Amaki talks about working for Southern Airways

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Amalia Amaki describes her international travels

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Amalia Amaki describes the University of New Mexico

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Amalia Amaka recalls meeting Georgia O'Keeffe

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Amalia Amaki describes her friends in New Mexico

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Amalia Amaki describes the cultures of New Mexico

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Amalia Amaki recalls her photography professor, Betty Hahn

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Amalia Amaki recalls her printmaking professor, Garo Antreasian

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Amalia Amaki describes her additions to the University of New Mexico's museum collection

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Amalia Amaki recalls her first curatorial position

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Amalia Amaki recalls her employment while studying at Emory University

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Amalia Amaki describes her favorite artists and photographers

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Amalia Amaki describes her professors and classmates at Emory University

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Amalia Amaki remembers teaching at Spelman College and studying abroad

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Amalia Amaki recalls completing her master's degree

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Amalia Amaki talks about earning her Ph.D. degree

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Amalia Amaki recalls her assistant professorship at Spelman College

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Amalia Amaki recalls working at the University of Delaware

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - Amalia Amaki recalls teaching at Studio Arts College International

Tape: 9 Story: 10 - Amalia Amaki describes the inspiration behind her quilts, pt. 1

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Amalia Amaki explains how her button work was inspired by her childhood

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Amalia Amaki recalls how she began creating art

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Amalia Amaki recounts the first sale of a piece of her art

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Amalia Amaki describes her drawings of children with oversized eyes

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Amalia Amaki describes her button artwork, pt. 1

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Amalia Amaki describes her button artwork, pt. 2

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Amalia Amaki shares an anecdote about her button artwork

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Amalia Amaki describes her artwork commissioned for Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

Tape: 10 Story: 9 - Amalia Amaki shares what she learned from collecting buttons

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Amalia Amaki talks about the use of buttons as currency

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Amalia Amaki describes the inspiration behind her work

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Amalia Amaki shares her ideas for future artistic projects

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Amalia Amaki describes the Paul R. Jones Collection of American Art, pt. 1

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Amalia Amaki describes the Paul Jones Collection of American Art, pt. 2

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Amalaia Amaki describes her art exhibitions

Tape: 11 Story: 7 - Amalia Amaki describes the collectors of her art

Tape: 11 Story: 8 - Amalia Amaki talks about her plans for the future

Tape: 11 Story: 9 - Amalia Amaki reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 11 Story: 10 - Amalia Amaki describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 12 Story: 1 - Amalia Amaki narrates her photographs

DASession

2$2

DATape

8$10

DAStory

2$7

DATitle
Amalia Amaka recalls meeting Georgia O'Keeffe
Amalia Amaki shares an anecdote about her button artwork
Transcript
I had wonderful experiences, interactions with Georgia O'Keeffe, which was one the highlights of my life, and--$$Well, tell me about that.$$I, I, I had befriended a, an architect who was in the Albuquerque [New Mexico] area. And he was, he had this very almost surrogate son kind of relationship with, with O'Keeffe. And one Saturday morning, it wasn't unusual for him to call and say, "What are you doing?" And he, we'd go on these adventures. We did that about three times. Well, on this particular occasion he said, "Well, you know, get some stuff and we're going on an adventure." And I got really kind, a little nervous because I didn't know him that well at that point. And all I could see was, you know, the city was getting further and further away, and I'm looking out on this desert, and I don't see anything. And I'm starting to envision in my mind, you know, I'm seeing, you know, UNM [University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico] student found dead on the, on the Mesa. You know, I'm just, all this stuff is running 'cause I really didn't know him that well. And eventually I see this structure. And we get closer and closer, and he's driven me to her house, her ranch. And the minute I step out of the car, once I realize where I am, I get excited. I step out of the car, and he pulls off, and there's this cloud of smoke. And as the smoke clears, I look and sort of off in an angle to my left is this tiny woman. I had no idea she was so small. But then, you know, how you just sense that you're being watched. And I sort of look off at this angle to the right, and here are two little brown chows. And they look at me, and then they look at her, and they look at me, and they look at her. And I know those are not, you know, little kiddie dogs, you know. I know these are dangerous dogs, potentially dangerous. And finally she says in this really strong voice: "What are you doing here?" And I said, "Well, I came to see you." And she said, "Why?" And I said, "Don't you know who you are?" And she laughs, and the dogs just kind of look off and walk off, and they, it's as if they say oh, she's all right. And he [sic. she] says, "That rascal. I'm gonna get him." So she knew exactly who, who had done this. But I was with her, I can't remember now if it was two hours, four hours, but it was long enough for her to, she had made tomato soup from tomatoes. This woman had a garden in the middle of the desert and grew little small sections of vegetables. So we had tomato soup from tomatoes in her garden. We had a very interesting conversation until I mentioned Alfred Stieglitz. And she just said, "You know he's dead; he's dead you know." And I knew that was her way of saying she didn't wanna talk about him. But that was one of my--and she gave me good advice when she found out I was, I was interested in art. And she asked me how did I define myself, and I said, "What do you mean?" She said, "If you're an artist, then that's how you define yourself." And she talked about how she did not consider herself to be the best, best painter. That she said you know, "It's not about always being the best." She said, "I know I saw painters who were probably better painters than I was." She said, "But when my opportunity came, I was ready." So she said, "Always have work. Warehouse it if you have to, because when the opportunity comes, if you're not ready, they won't wait for you. They move on." It was good advice. She said you know--she, she never talked race, but she said, "I know you, you're gonna run into situations where people treat you unfairly for all the wrong reasons." She said, "Don't get mad. Become successful. That's the best way to get even." She said that's what she did. So it was a wonderful two, I can't remember now if two, four hours when, when, when Bart [ph.] came back. That was the, the architect who took me out there--$One of my favorite stories that really happened was after I got the commission in 1994, when I got a commission to do a piece for the airport [Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Atlanta, Georgia] as a part of the, the activities that were going on because the Olympics [1996 Summer Olympics, Atlanta, Georgia] were coming--$$The Atlanta [Georgia] airport?$$The Atlanta airport, the Atlanta airport. And I did that piece, and years later I got a phone call from a man who said, "You don't know me, but it's taking me six months to get in touch with you." And he said, "I just had to tell you how important that piece at the airport is to me personally." And I said, "What do you mean?" He said, "I have been," he said he had been estranged from his daughter and his grandkids, as a result of being estranged from his daughter. He didn't tell me what it was about, but he said he had a flight, and the flight was departing from Gate E5, which is the gate where the artwork is. He said and the flight was delayed, and he said, "I was sitting there and I suddenly looked up and looked at your piece." And he said, "And I looked at that band going across the center connecting the two pie shapes." He said, "And I looked and I looked," and he said, "Those buttons look familiar." And he said he got up and he looked again. He said, "Those were the same buttons that were on the uniform that I wore," he said that he wore when he was in the Korean War, when he fought in the Korean War. And he said he thought about it and thought about it. He thought about when his--it made him reflect on his, his relationship with his wife, with the children, and he said he suddenly realized that, that thing that he had with his daughter made no sense. And he said, "I missed the flight because I rushed to a phone." You know, everybody didn't have cell phones. But he said he rushed to a phone, and he called his daughter. And he said, "Listen, I'm in Atlanta." His daughter lives here. He said, "I'm in Atlanta. I have to fly out tonight, but I want to come back, and I want to meet with you. I want us to get back together, and I want to know my grandkids." And he said he came back about three weeks later. This was before 9/11 [September 11, 2001], so you could literally come into the airport without a ticket and get to a gate. And he said he brought his grandkids. He sat under that piece, and he said he told them what it was like being in the war. And he said he just felt such a bond with his grandkids and had reunited with his daughter. And he said you know, "Your piece played a part in that." He said so--isn't that amazing? I mean a button, you know, but I he said he looked up there, and he said, "That was one I had on my uniform." Isn't that--$$Describe it.$$--amazing?$$Yeah--