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(New York, 1933 - Clifton Park, 1987)


Amelia Lucille (Wanderer) Etlinger, 1933-1987, was born in New York City to a mother who was institutionalized when Amelia was 6 months old and an absent father. Amelia and her brother, Leonard, who was 3 years older, were placed in foster care with the Goldberg family in Brooklyn. She had a troubled childhood and only obtained a grammar school education. At the age of 29 she started writing short stories and then, after discovering the poetry of ee cummings, began writing visual poetry. Amelia married Louis Etlinger in her early twenties, had 3 daughters, and moved outside of Albany to Clifton Park, NY, in her early thirties. Over time her visual poetry evolved into elaborate and collaborative works of natural material collected in the woods behind her house as well as fabric, thread, beads, costume jewelry, Japanese papers, and other found material.

By the early 1970s Etlinger was corresponding with Eugene Grominger, Ugo Carrega, Mirella Bentivoglio, Mary Ellen Solt, Emmett Williams, and Paul de Vrees, and her work was being exhibited internationally. In the mid-1970s she was introduced to and started corresponding with Ellen Marie Helinka [Bissert] and Mike Belt. Etlinger won the 1976 Fels award through the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines for her poems and interview in 13th Moon, which was the only money she ever accepted for her work. She had her first solo exhibition in Italy with the help of Ugo Carrega and Mirella Bentivoglio in October 1976. In 1978 she was included in Mirella Bentivoglio's exhibitionMaterialization of Languagefor the XXXIX Biennale di Venezia.

In the same year her brother, Leonard Wanderer, took his own life, which greatly affected Amelia. In 1985 and 1986, two collections in which her work is well represented were relinquished to archives:13th Moon to the New York Public Library and Jean Brown's Fluxus Collection to the Getty.

Mike Belt died of AIDS on November 8, 1986, and shortly after on January 1, 1987, Etlinger passed away.


Amelia Etlinger was relatively unknown in the United States during her lifetime, but her work has been exhibited widely internationally, and most notably in Italy, where it was well received by concrete theorists and the Italian Poesia Visiva community. Throughout her career, this community of avant-garde artists, curators, and critics including Mirella Bentivoglio, Franca Zoccoli, Betty Danon, Paula Claire, and Ugo Carrega befriended her and supported her work. While she has been critically assessed within the realms of Fluxus, Poesia Visiva, mail, fiber, book, conceptual, and feminist art, Etlinger was adamant in correspondeance and interviews that she was a poet, not an artist, and that “art is the danger to the visual poem.” By the 1970's, her poetry had evolved away from words as the primary medium and she began writing her poetry in her language of threads.


The majority of the Amelia Etlinger Collection, consisting of over 100 works, correspondeance, and criticism, was donated by Ellen Marie Helinka (Bissert), who has been instrumental in preserving Etlinger's legacy. Helinka founded 13thMoon: A Feminist Literary Magazine in 1973, and it was the poems in Ellen's interview with Etlinger that won her the Fels Award in 1976. Helinka and Etlinger maintained their relationship and correspondeance up until Amelia's passing in 1987. Helinka was also corresponding with Mike Belt and preserved and donated his collection of Amelia's work to the Poetry Collection, along with her personal collection.



An American Original. Visual Poems from 1972 to 1983, Osart Gallery, Milano; Galleria l'Elefante, Treviso


Amelia Etlinger, Something is happening, Università di Pavia


Amelia Etlinger. At the time of writing, Mercato del Sale, Milano


Amelia Etlinger, Centro Tool, Milano



Libertà sulla parola, Osart Gallery, Milano


Doing Deculturalization, Museion, Bolzano

The Unexpected Subject. 1978 Art and Feminism in Italy, c. by Marco Scotini, Raffaella Perna, FM Centre

for Contemporary Art, Milano


La materia trasformata. Il riutilizzo dell'oggetto nelle pratiche artistiche contemporanee, Galleria l'Elefante,


Body and Words in Italian and Lithuanian Women's Art from 1965 to the Present, c. by Benedetta Carpi de

Resmini, Laima Kreivyte, Magma, Vilnius, Roma


Materiale immateriale, MART Museo di Arte Contemporanea, Rovereto


Il librismo 1896-1990 dalla cornice alla copertina, dal piedistallo allo scaffale, Cagliari


Volumina: il libro oggetto rivisitato dalla donna artista del nostro secolo, Senigallia


Movimento d'arte genetica. Ghen, D'Ars, Milano


Filo, genesi, filogenesi, c. by Mirella Bentivoglio, Galleria d'Arte Duchamp, Cagliari

Ghen. Viole e violini per un Khorale. Rassegna “Ma il vero scandalo è la poesia/Un salto di codice”, centro

Ipermedia- Einaudi. Ferrara


Materializzazione del linguaggio, c. by Mirella Bentivoglio,XXXIX Biennale di Venezia, Magazzini del Sale,

Zattere, Venezia


Tra linguaggio e immagine, c. by Mirella Bentivoglio, Galleria d'Arte Il Canale, Venezia


Esposizione Internazionale di Operatrici Visuali, Centro Tool, Milan

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