Stephen Towns: Declaration & Resistance at the Boise Art Museum

Stephen Towns, I Am the Glory, 2022

De Buck Gallery is thrilled to announce that artist Stephen Towns will be continuing his exhibition, Stephen Towns: Declaration & Resistance, at the Boise Art Museum this month. The exhibition will run from June 11 to September 18, 2022. The exhibition is a continuation of its showing at the Westmoreland Museum of Art in Pennsylvania which ended this past May.

Stephen Towns: Declaration & Resistance examines the American dream through the lives of Black Americans from the late 18th century to the present time. Using labor as a backdrop, Towns highlights the role African Americans have played in shaping national economic systems. He explores their resilience, resistance, and endurance that have challenged the United States to truly embrace the tenets of its Declaration of Independence.

For this exhibition, Towns created a body of 35 new works, including 27 figurative paintings and eight story-quilts. Following his existing portfolio, Towns expands the historical narratives of enslaved and free people who, in America, toiled under the most extreme hardships, yet persevered through acts of rebellion, skillful guile and self-willed determination. The exhibition will be grounded with several existing works including his installation quilt, Birth of a Nation, 2014, providing the foundation for Town’s new quilts which tell the stories of workers in the textile, culinary, and agricultural industries.

Stephen Towns, Anne Kraybill, Kilolo Luckett
Westmoreland Museum Director and CEO Anne Kraybill, artist Stephen Towns, and curator Kilolo Luckett at the opening of Stephen Towns: Declaration & Resistance. Photo courtesy of the Westmoreland Museum of American Art.

In The Coal Miners, a series of six distinctive mixed-media paintings, Towns features Black miners from West Virginia who were relegated to the most difficult, underpaid, dangerous, and insecure jobs. Towns also foregrounds the stories of Black military workers, often frontline service people, who put their country first, the ultimate form of patriotism. A few works in the exhibition shine light on the history of convict leasing (commonly known as ‘chain gangs’) by the criminal justice system in which the Black community was made to serve the economic interests of white southern elites via forced labor.

Towns calls attention to the hidden figures who helped shape American cuisine. Among these works, the artist honors Ms. Elsie Henderson, a chef at the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home, Fallingwater, who recently passed away at the age of 107. Over the course of her life, Ms. Henderson nourished several wealthy Pittsburgh families, including the Kaufmans, owners of the modern architectural marvel in Mill Run, Pennsylvania. Towns participated in an artist residency program at Fallingwater in June 2021, where he created new fiber works.

Stephen Towns, Elsie Henderson, 2021

Lastly, in another work, Towns pays tribute to Ona Judge, a formerly enslaved servant of President George Washington’s plantation. Judge was an invaluable seamstress and body servant to Martha Washington, who as a teenager escaped Mount Vernon and fled to New England.

This exhibition is organized and toured by The Westmoreland Museum of American Art, Greensburg, PA and curated by Kilolo Luckett.

Location

Boise Art Museum Boise, Idaho

Date

June 11, 2022 - September 18, 2022

Artist(s)

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