Stephen Towns: Declaration & Resistance

June 11 – September 18, 2022

Stephen Towns is a painter and fiber artist whose artwork explores the ways American history influences contemporary society.  His work draws visual inspiration from medieval altarpieces, nineteenth-century photography, Dutch wax print fabrics, and from African American story quilts.  Guest curated by art historian, cultural producer, and writer Kilolo Luckett, the exhibition features artwork created between 2014 and 2021 that explores the American dream through the lives of Black Americans from the late eighteenth century to present.  Using labor as a backdrop, Towns highlights the roles Black Americans have played in the economy, and underscores the resilience, resistance, and endurance that has challenged the United States to truly reflect the tenets of the Declaration of Independence.  Towns says, “All of my work is rooted in my growing up in the Deep South.  My work is in direct response to issues permeating African American culture, issues such as loss of ancestral roots, slavery, class, education, skin tone, and religion.  I want to create beauty from the hardships in life.”

Stephen Towns received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting from the University of South Carolina. His work has been exhibited nationally, including solo exhibitions at the Baltimore Museum of Art, Goucher College, Galerie Myrtis, as well as group exhibitions at Arlington Art Center, Montpelier Arts Center, and Star-Spangled Banner Flag House and Museum. His work has been featured in publications such as the New York Times, American Craft Council Magazine, and The Baltimore Sun. Towns was honored as the inaugural recipient of the 2016 Municipal Art Society of Baltimore Travel Prize and received a Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance Ruby’s Artist Grant in 2015. In 2018, Towns was a semi-finalist for the Sandheim Artscape Prize and was awarded a Maryland State Arts Council’s Individual Artist Award. His artwork was also featured in the Toni Morrison documentary, The Pieces I Am.

Kilolo Luckett is an art historian, curator, and cultural producer. With more than 20 years of experience in arts administration and cultural production, she is committed to elevating the voices of underrepresented visual artists, specifically women and Black and Brown artists. She is consulting curator of Visual Arts at the August Wilson African American Cultural Center, and serves as an Art Commissioner for the City of Pittsburgh’s Art Commission. Kilolo is curator of Facebook Pittsburgh’s Artist in Residency program. She is founder and executive director of ALMA|LEWIS, an experimental, contemporary art platform for critical thinking, dialogue, and creative expression dedicated to Black culture. Kilolo has curated exhibitions by national and international artists such as Peju Alatise, Martha Jackson Jarvis, Amani Lewis, Thaddeus Mosley, and Devan Shimoyama. She served as the curatorial assistant at Wood Street Galleries. Kilolo was a cultural consultant for Atelier Ace, and worked as the cultural attaché for Ace Hotel Pittsburgh. She also served as managing director of the Homewood Artist Residency, and was director of development for The Andy Warhol Museum. Luckett holds a bachelor’s degree in the History of Art and Architecture from the University of Pittsburgh and is a graduate of Leadership Pittsburgh’s Leadership Development Initiative X.


Stephen Towns:  Declaration & Resistance is organized and toured by
The Westmoreland Museum of American Art, Greensburg, PA
Curated by Kilolo Luckett

Support for this exhibition has been provided by:
Stephen Towns:  Declaration & Resistance
is supported by Eden Hall Foundation; Arts Equity, & Education Fund; De Buck Gallery, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Hillman Exhibition Fund of The Westmoreland Museum of American Art.  This exhibition is completed in partnership with the Rivers of Steel Heritage Area with funding provided in part by a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of Recreation and Conservation, Environmental Stewardship Fund, administered by the Rivers of Steel Heritage Corp.

 

Grant funding for this exhibition at the Boise Art Museum has been provided by the Idaho Humanities Council (IHC) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan (SHARP).


Additional support provided by Yvonne McCoy.