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Art in Odum Library – Amalia Amaki – "For the Love of Books"

by Michael Holt on September 7, 2011 in Odum Library

Until now, the Art in Odum Library blog posts have focused on collections. Today’s post focuses on a single work that has a great deal of meaning for everyone in our library. This piece was commissioned in honor of William H. Mobley IV, a longtime friend of our library. Please continue reading this post to find out more about Mr. Mobley and the work by Ms. Amaki that was commissioned in his honor.


William H. Mobley IV
A black and white photo of William H. Mobley IV.
William H. Mobley IV was a Valdosta native who worked for thirty-five years at the Library of Congress until his retirement in 2000. He was selected the Library’s Principle Evaluations Office and curator of the Library of Congress Archives. He also edited the Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt papers for the Presidential Papers Project as well as being appointed by Valdosta State University to select books through the Library of Congress Surplus Book Program. Over twenty years, Bill Mobley was responsible for bringing in almost 1 million dollars worth of books to the Odum Library. When he died in 2010, the library lost a dear friend. Family and friends of Bill donated funds, matched by a VSU Art Funding Pool award to purchase a work in his honor. The VSU Library Art Committee commissioned a work in his honor by Dr. Amalia Amaki.

Dr. Amalia Amaki

Amalia Amaki is an artist, art historian, writer, film critic and visual studies scholar. She is currently Professor of Art, Art History and Visual Studies at the University of Alabama, having previously taught at the University of Delaware, North Georgia College and State University, and Spelman College.
She has exhibited work in over thirty one-person shows including a retrospective at the National Museum of Women in the Arts (Washington, DC, 2005), and more than 100 group exhibitions throughout the United States and in Europe, Africa, and South America, most recently in Paris, France (2010). She has been a National Endowment for the Arts fellow; an artist grant recipient from the Georgia Council for the Arts, Fulton County Arts Council and the City of Atlanta; and has received commendations for her contributions to the arts from Georgia Secretary of State Lewis Massey, Governor Sonny Perdue, and First Lady Laura Bush. She has been awarded art commissions from the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, US General Services Administration – Sam Nunn Federal Center, The Coca Cola Company, Coca Cola Enterprises, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (3), The Contemporary (formally Nexus Contemporary Art Center), Seagrams Gin, Miller Brewing Company and Absolut Vodka. Her work is in the permanent collections of the National Museum for Women in the Arts (Washington, DC); High Museum of Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and the Albany Museum of Art among many others. Amaki’s publications include Hale Woodruff, Nancy Elizabeth Prophet and The Academy (2007 with A. Barnwell-Brownlee) and A Century of African American Art: The Paul R. Jones Collection (2004), and has contributed essays to numerous anthologies and art journals. She is currently writing a pictorial history of Tuscaloosa, Alabama for Arcadia Publishing, and has a forthcoming book of artwork and poems, Homage, with Marquand Books.

For The Love of Books
Mixed media art piece with books, buttons, and a photograph of two children
This work, “For the Love of Books” is a three-dimensional, mixed-media piece made of buttons, paint, a reproduced photograph, and books. When we first approached the artist, she was just starting a piece she conceived of as “Dancing with Books.” After research and discussions that piece became “For the Love of Books.” A close look at the work reveals elements of both inspirations. The children dance between a solid bottom foundation of books, surrounded by a plethora of buttons. The books include child psychology and education books as well a literature, history and even dictionaries. Buttons are mundane treasures; any child whose mother sewed can remember playing with these domestic “jewels.” The children, dressed as dancers with button jewels reach towards a book in the top right corner called “The Sky’s the Limit.” This is a happy composition, full of promise. As a tribute to Bill Mobley and VSU, Amaki situated a book about Mobley in the center of the work, and buttons surround the small postcard of Odum Library on the right. She also added books by local authors to the foundation (see if you can spot them). Suddenly a universal piece about joy, support, aspirations, and promise, is wedded to the specific: here, locally, through books donated by Mobley, through the library and the university, the sky becomes the limit of student aspirations. We are very excited to add this work to Odum Library’s art collection. In addition, Dr. Amaki will be donating books on African Americans and Art to the Odum Library.

This painting was purchased with funds from the family and friends of William H. Mobley and from the Valdosta State University Art Funding Pool. The painting was selected by the Odum Library Art Committee.

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