On March 15, 2016, acclaimed printmaker Amos Kennedy, Jr. participated in a public conversation about his archival holdings in the African American collections at Emory University's Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library. Best known for artist books that narrate African American history in striking 3-D format, Kennedy also creates posters featuring tongue-in-cheek phrases about southern cultures and identities. In 2014, Southern Spaces published a blog post about Kennedy's "Burnt Church," an artist book inspired by a series of underreported black church burnings in southern states during the early 1990s.
During his recent visit, I had the opportunity to interview Kennedy. As we chatted, Kennedy described his relationship to various places, including a "ten-year apprenticeship" in the US South, as well as his current home base in Detroit, Michigan. Reflecting on how location informs his artistic process, Kennedy encouraged others to adopt a "just do it mentality" by drawing fully on local resources. Kennedy also interacted with one of the pieces in the "Burnt Church" series, describing its materiality as an important artistic intervention in the digital age.