Erin Currier

Amy Winehouse

Acrylic and mixed media on panel, 24"h x 18"w, Item No. 18839,

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Amy Jade Winehouse was born on September 14, 1983 in Southgate, London, England to a pharmacist & a taxi driver who shared her love of theater and music. Amy was brought up on jazz music: at age 13 she received her first guitar and taught herself how to play. After being kicked out of theatre school for her rebellious antics; she began her professional career at 16, performing occasional club gigs and recording low cost demos. At 19 years old, she recorded her debut album: Frank (2003), a jazz-tinged album that became a hit and earned her several award nominations. During the next several years, she survived a period of personal upheaval, a painful relationship, and struggles with substance abuse. Her final album, Back to Black (2006) was an international hit, and the hit song 'Rehab' made No. 9 on the US pop charts.

Amy Winehouse became the first British female to win 5 Grammy Awards on the same night, February 10th, 2008, including Best New Artist and Record of the Year for 'Rehab'. Following her success at the Grammy Awards, Winehouse gave a string of highly successful performances— even performing for Nelson Mandela on his 90th birthday celebration in London's Hyde Park. With her distinctive style, her tumultuous and erratic personal life, and her addictive behavior; she was a controversial and constant figure in the press: a Muse to fashion designers, and a constant target of the tabloids. In April 2008 she was named the second greatest "ultimate heroine" by the British population at large, and a month later was voted the second most hated personality in the UK. 

Musically, Amy Winehouse created a cross-cultural and cross-genre style. She experimented with an eclectic mix of jazz, soul, pop, reggae, world beat and R&B. She had a special ability to channel a deep and relatable angst and pathos into her lyrics and performances. Her voice, phrasing, and delivery, was compared to that of Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, and Sarah Vaughan; and, coupled with similarities in personal challenges, she at times resembled another incarnation of legendary "Lady Blues”. Amy died at 27 years old on July 23, 2011 in her London home following a long-running battle with alcohol and drug addiction.

For me, the life and work of Amy Winehouse embodied both the depths of human suffering and the highest potential of artistic achievement— not unlike another of my very favorite artists: Frida Kahlo. Both were able to parlay tremendous pain into exquisite works of beauty to inspire generations to come. In my homage to Amy, I used ephemera include “Venus” razor packaging; Ingres blue paper from Italy; an empty Sparkler box; an Orale! Invitation from an art exhibit in Taos; roller derby playing cards; an empty black cherry soda carton; florist paper from Southeast Asia; Mexican Loteria cards with musical instruments.