Ludie Amos, of Clarksville, is a prize-winning visionary artist whose unique artwork tells stories of growing up in the rural South. Her multidisciplinary, mixed media artwork includes doll making, quilting, tapestry making, painting, and sculpting. Through these multiple mediums, Amos creates stunning visual representations of her memories. Each intricate tapestry, doll, or diorama that she creates is one of a kind, revealing boundless creativity. Amos’s art is a powerful archive of rural life in the South, unified by themes of family and the everyday lives of women.
Born in 1935 in rural Georgia, Amos helped her mother hand sew quilts as a child. In 1959, she moved to Clarksville when her husband was deployed to Vietnam. She devoted her days to raising her three children and being involved in the community. It was there in Clarksville that her sculpting began forty years ago when she decided she needed art to fill her walls. She attempted to make Christmas tree ornaments out of Styrofoam and fabric but was dissatisfied. She continued to experiment and finally discovered polymer clay, which she molded into realistic figures. As a fabric artist, Amos’s quilts show farm scenes, families on porches reading, shelling peas, and carving wood. Her quilts are highly detailed with carefully chosen color combinations.
Amos is a self-taught artist, using the materials she has available to her to create sculptures and tapestries and drawing inspiration from her reservoir of memory and lived experiences. The traditional art forms that she learned from family and community members while growing up provided the building blocks for her work as an adult. Quilting was practiced in her family, and she was interested in fashion design from a young age. She also worked with her mother in making clothes for her dolls from her own outgrown clothing. To create the Artisan collection, Amos traveled to craft fairs, studying the exhibiting artists. Amos credits her high school art classes with helping her understand color and composition.
Amos worked for many years as an elementary school secretary and raised a large family. It was not until later in her life that she began to exhibit her work, starting at her church, Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church, in 1988. Since then, her artwork has been exhibited at Austin Peay State University, Fort Campbell military base, the Customs House Museum, and prominent Nashville galleries. Gallery owner Nathaniel Harris says he has carried her artwork for twenty-five years and has sold her pieces to people across the nation. Amos’s work has also been featured on Tennessee Crossroads and local news stations.
Amos has been referred to as an “artistic visionary” and “Clarksville treasure” by Terri Jordan, the Exhibits Curator at the Customs House Museum & Cultural Center. Her visual narratives transcend time and place to reveal a richness of life which resonates with all. The sculptures that celebrate family life in the rural south, the volume of work produced despite great family and community obligations, and the talented composition, work to reveal how intimate, human, and detailed sewn forms can be. One journalist wrote, “The work of Ludie Amos is unforgettable. Her uniqueness is characterized by her feel for humanity that shows in every way she reveals her creativity.”