Emma Wilcox

Emma Wilcox, a woman with her hair pulled back and rectangular glasses, is wearing a black shirt and posed in front of a black background.
Recorded by:
Interview Date(s):Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Location:Residence of Emma Wilcox
Transcript(s):PDF icon Transcript

Emma Wilcox is the Gallery Director at Gallery Aferro, where, with co-founder Artistic Director Evonne Davis she has designed and implemented hundreds of exhibits, public programs, educational initiatives, public art projects as well as more than two dozen publications. Addressing barriers to full cultural participation by historically underserved populations has been an overriding concern throughout the gallery’s fifteen years of existence, during which time we have earned 5 consecutive citations of excellence from the NJSCA. Many of our efforts have been highly collaborative in nature, involving dozens of other nonprofits, museums, galleries, and collectives, such as our 2012 digital animation "remixes" by Newark youth of Newark Museum collection artworks, our 2013 project, Jan Sawka 1946-2012: Reflections on Everyman, which focused on the life and work on Polish exile, artist and activist Jan Sawka, including Sawka's support of the Solidarity movement, or our ongoing project about Newark’s Kea Tawana and her ark, a large-scale community oral history project in collaboration with the Price Institute for Ethnicity, Race and the Modern Experience, Rutgers-Newark. She recently gave a 2016 TedX talk about art, audience, community, power dynamics, resistance, and the “strange and enduring power of arts experiences” such as the Aferro Mobile Portrait Studio. She studied photography at the School of Visual Arts and was part of the 2015-2017 cohort of the the Prudential Foundation Nonprofit Executive Fellows Program at the Institute for Ethical Leadership at Rutgers Business School. Within the greater tristate area, as a mentor, educator, and neighbor, she answers to shouts of HEY GALLERY LADY! The co-directors were invited to join the 2013 convening of the Gustav Heningburg Civic Fellowship, Rutgers Institute for Culture, Ethnicity and the Modern Experience, and jointly shared the honor of the Printmaking Center of NJ’s 2013 Erena Ray Award for Art and Social Justice.

She is a working artist and writer, maintaining an artistic and curatorial interest in history, including the history of artist communities. As a photographer she is concerned with environmental justice, land usage, eminent domain, and the role of individual memory in the creation of local history, with work in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Her solo exhibitions include Where it Falls, The Print Center, Philadelphia, PA and William Patterson University Galleries, Wayne, NJ, 2012, Emma Wilcox, 2010 at Gitterman Gallery, New York, NY, Salvage Rights, Real Art Ways, Hartford, CT, 2009 and Forensic Landscapes, Jersey City Museum, 2007.  She is the recipient of a Harpo Foundation Grant, a NoMAA Creative Grant, a NJ State Arts Council Fellowship for photography, the Camera Club Of NY residency, the Newark Museum Residency and was a core participant in Night School at the New Museum in 2008.  She participated in Emerge 7, Aljira, Newark, NJ and AIM 29, Bronx Museum, Bronx, NY. Where It Falls, a traveling exhibition and publication of her artwork, was inspired by a text fragment from the original 1713 survey of Newark, encountered when she was an artist in residence at the Newark Museum, and was reviewed in Art in America. She has worked with former Special Collections librarian for the Newark Library Jared Ash on several projects and has been featured on Women in Photography, the New Yorker, American Suburb X, Lolife and Black and White magazines, and the New Yorker’s photo blog, Photo Booth and has written for Bomb, Zing, and Influence magazines. She lectures regularly on art and cultural engagement topics for organizations ranging from the College Art Association, the NJ Historical Society, Rider University/NJ Arts Pride, and many others. She lives by the river.