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Emma Wilcox, Market, 2007. Silver gelatin print, 20 x 24 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

This post is part of a series marking the 40th anniversary of Paul Robeson Galleries. We are celebrating the artists who we have had the pleasure of working with over the last four decades, highlighting those artists who have inspired, provoked, challenged, and enriched our lives.


Artist Biography

Emma Wilcox was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the School of Visual Arts in 2002. Wilcox is a writer and artist, maintaining an artistic and curatorial interest in history, including the history of artist communities. She is also Co-Founder and Gallery Director at Gallery Aferro.  

As a photographer, Wilcox is concerned with environmental justice, land usage, eminent domain, and individual memory in the creation of local history. Her solo exhibitions include Where it Falls (2012), The Print Center, Philadelphia, and William Patterson University Galleries, Wayne; Emma Wilcox (2010) at Gitterman Gallery, New York; Salvage Rights (2009), Real Art Ways, Hartford; and Forensic Landscapes (2007), Jersey City Museum. She is the recipient of grants from organizations including the Harpo Foundation (2011), the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance Creative (2011), and the New Jersey State Arts Council (2007). Wilcox has been Artist in residence at the Camera Club Of New York (2008) and the Newark Museum (2009), and a participant in Night School at the New Museum, Emerge 7 at Aljira, Newark (2007) and AIM at the Bronx Museum (2009). Her work is included in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  

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. Her work has been featured in Women in Photography, Art in America, American Suburb X, Lolife, Black and White, and The New Yorker‘s photoblog, Photo Booth. Wilcox has written for Bomb, Zing, and Influence magazines. She regularly lectures on art and cultural engagement topics for organizations ranging from the College Art Association, the New Jersey Historical Society, Rider University, New Jersey Arts Pride, and many others. She lives and works in Newark.

About the Art

Emma Wilcox’s Market is part of the series, Forensic Landscapes, an ongoing documentation of an urban landscape, a history capsule of the decay taking place in this New Jersey city. Wilcox chose to focus predominantly on a 5-mile radius of Newark, New Jersey, her hometown. The use of dark shadows and high contrast in her photography acknowledges the dramatic environmental change happening in her community, giving the viewer a haunting and nostalgic view of the city. These black and white silver gelatin prints reflect the concerns and issues that urban areas face: gentrification, poverty, and the everchanging landscape of a growing city whose longtime residents are sometimes forgotten or left behind.

In the body of work, Where It Falls, Wilcox uses aerial photography and Google Maps to document her text-based project where paint and flour are used to write 12-foot high letter messages on the rooftops of multiple buildings located in Newark. Eminent Domain No 3 (2006) is a photograph taken of Wilcox’s former building, with the painted message “MY MEMORY GETS IN THE WAY YOUR HISTORY,” a personal statement inspired by Wilcox’s experience with eminent domain from the rooftop of a home that has since been torn down. 

Artist and critic Tim Maul writes, “‘progress’ has rendered these landscapes ancient, and Wilcox is both a cartographer and guerrilla, staging interventions embedded within photographs that like maps themselves, never succeed as precise conveyors of ‘truth’. The images bear no obvious timestamp; they serve as a subjective document and challenge the notion of evidence. Though often dark, both visually and conceptually, the work has an underlying note of resilience and perseverance.”