The multi-talented Camille Billops has found many different ways to express her artistic ability throughout her career. Her works that were done throughout her career was an expression of her life. Throughout the life of Camille she had many influences leading her into the art world. This paper has the artist going through her life coming up through the world as a student to a teacher then artist, and her works making her a legend. The way she met her husband and worked together to make the Hatch-Billops Collection. In her time as an artist she changed her work a few times.
She started doing printmaking then changed to sculpture and film making. Throughout her life is what made her films. The trilogy of films makes her life public for everyone to see. From Suzanne Suzanne to Finding Christa and then to String of Pearls. Camille Billops is an artist representing her culture through her works of printmaking, sculpture and film. She has made her mark in history by doing so. Because of this she will always be remembered. Camille Billops was born in Los Angeles in 1933 to Alma Gilmore and Lucius Billops.
She attended City College of Los Angeles, Associate of Arts and graduated in 1954. Then changed schools to the University of Southern California and studied occupational therapy. After that she changed schools again to the Los Angeles State College and received her Bachelor of Arts. After her schooling she met her future husband writer and playwright James Vernon Hatch, who is white, and traveled to Egypt and had a one person exhibit for Camille. After her exhibit in Egypt she came back to the states to go back to school.
Billops moved to New York and received her Masters in Fine Art from the City College of New York in 1973. While attending the City College of New York she also had begun to teach ceramics. After graduating with her Masters in Fine Art she went and taught ceramics at Rutgers University, Newark, N. Y. Also in 1975 she founded the Hatch-Billops Collection with her husband James Hatch. The Hatch-Billops Collection is an archive of African American cultural history that includes oral histories, slides, books, photographs, and other historical materials.
Camille’s husband and filmmaker James Hatch was born on October 25, 1928 in Oelwein, Iowa. After earning a B. A. in English and Speech in 1949 from the University of Northern Iowa, Hatch taught high school English and Drama. In his studies at the University of Iowa, he received a M. A. and PhD in Theatre and Speech in 1955 and 1958. Hatch also had two children with his first wife, Evelyn Marcussen during this time. In 1958, Hatch accepted a position as assistant professor of Theatre Arts at UCLA.
In the 1960’s he met and traveled with Camille Billops and both fell in love and got married. Shortly after his return from Egypt in 1965, Hatch joined the faculty at the City College of New York as a lecturer in English. He was a consultant to the Institute of Dramatic Arts, at the University of California at Santa Barbara, in 1967, the New York City Board of Education, in 1969, the Institute in Dramatic Arts at North Carolina State University and the Afro-American Institute at Columbia University in 1970.
He was a theatre specialist in India, Pakistan, and Ceylon for the U. S. Department of State, in 1968 and a lecturer in creative writing at Chautauqua Institute in 1969 and 1970. Hatch became an associate professor at City College in 1973 and was also a visiting professor at New York University. In 1975, Hatch co-founded the Hatch-Billops Collection Archives of Black American Cultural History, which is housed in New York City. Hatch married Camille Billops in September of 1983. They have one daughter, Christa Victoria.
The Hatch-Billops Collection, donated by filmmakers James Hatch and Camille Billops of Mom and Pop Productions, New York, is arranged in three series: General Film Publicity, 1937-1977; Monographs and Serials, 1960-1977; and Finding Christa, 1991-1995. The first series, “General Film Publicity, 1937-1977,” consists of press sheets, press books, newspaper advertisements, and newspaper articles on films with African American actors and actresses. The bulk of the series consists of newspaper advertisements and press books from 1967-1975, featuring many Blaxploitation era films.
Also included are several press sheets for early films distributed by Sack Amusement Enterprises, such as Underworld (1937) and Son of Ingagi (1940), and a press book for Home of the Brave (1949). Included in the second series, “Monographs and Serials, 1960-1977,” are three books and three issues of Cineaste. Two of the books are based on films, The Crowning Experience (1960) and Spartacus (1960), while the third, Taking Another Look by Asiba Tupahache, confronts the problems involved with stereotypes and racism.
The third series contains materials related to James Hatch and Camille Billops’ 1991 documentary, Finding Christa, and is arranged in three Subseries. The first of these, “Programs and Publicity, 1991-1995,” primarily consists of film festival schedules as well as a press kit for the film. The “Reviews and articles, 1991-1993” subseries includes photocopies of reviews and articles about Finding Christa from various publications. Finally, the “Photographs, 1991” subseries contains nine photographs from the film.
Camille Billops began her career in filmmaking in the early 1980s with Suzanne, Suzanne (1982) and has since directed five more including Finding Christa (1991), which won the Grand Jury Prize for documentaries at the 1992 Sundance Film Festival and aired on PBS as part of the P. O. V. television series. Finding Christa, like many of her other films, is a highly autobiographical documentary. Other films by Camille Billops include Older Women and Love (1987), The KKK Boutique Ain’t Just Rednecks (1994), Take Your Bags (1998), and A String of Pearls (2002). Each one of the movie trilogy Suzanne, Suzanne, Finding Christa, and A String of Pearls.
These three movies are about Camille’s life and tells what happened. In Suzanne, Suzanne the documentary profiles a young black woman’s struggle to confront the legacy of a physically abusive father and her headlong flight into drug abuse. , after years of physical and psychological abuse, is compelled to understand her father’s violence and her mother’s passive complicity as the keys to her own self-destruction. After years of silence, Suzanne and her mother are finally able to share their painful experiences with each other in an intensely moving moment of truth.
In Finding Christa there presents a moving yet unsentimental view of motherhood and adoption. It explores the feelings surrounding the reunion of a young woman with her natural mother 20 years after being given up for adoption. The reunion is between filmmaker s and her own daughter. Facing the encounter with mixed emotions, Billops interrogates her family and friends as well as her own motivations behind the decision. The result is an original and personal film that challenges societal biases about adoption and offers new insight on mother-daughter relationships.
In A String of Pearls With this film Camille Billops completes her family’s trilogy. The three documentaries that cover more than thirty years Suzanne Suzanne, shown in the New Director’s series at the Museum of Modern Art in 1982 revealed how abuse of Suzanne by her father led to her drug addiction. Finding Christa is a winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 1992, told how Camille’s unwanted pregnancy led her to put Christa up for adoption and how Christa returned twenty years later to confront her mother.
And A String of Pearls turns the camera to four generations of men in Camille’s family and considers why their fathers died so young. The camera turns to the grandsons, Michael and Peter. Both are without education, jobs or skills to earn a living and both have children that they cannot support. They want them to live, but two doctors from the local hospital trauma ward describe the streets of Los Angeles as a war zone where the US military sends its doctors to learn about gunshot wounds.
In A String of Pearls Camille takes a hard look into the hearts of the black men in her family. In this film, love blooms. The multi-talented Camille Billops has found many different ways to express her artistic ability throughout her career. This makes her one of the most exceptional artists of our time. Camille Billops is an artist representing her culture through her works of printmaking, sculpture and film. She has made her mark in history by doing so. Because of this she will always be remembered.