The Georgia Museum of Art exhibits works by famous artist Lou Stovall – WABE
World-renowned printmaker and artist Lou Stovall presents a new exhibit in his hometown of Athens, Georgia. “Lou Stovall: Of Land and Origins” highlights works inspired by his life, nature and poetic meditations. The exhibit is on view through May 29 at the Georgia Museum of Art on the University of Georgia campus. Shawnya Harris is the museum’s curator of African American art. She joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes via Zoom to share a bit of a story about the artist and how he expanded the global visual vocabulary of print.
The art of screen printing often evokes advertisements and concert posters, but less frequently, the higher realms of art. But Lou Stovall’s screen printing techniques broke the mold of the medium, with some images resembling watercolor or pastel paintings.
“When we think of posters and other media…you just think of a flat image with letters, and maybe bright colors to grab your attention with the purpose of buying something, or attending or connect to something on a very quick level. One of the things that I find interesting about Lou Stovall’s technique is that it actually invites a closer look,” Harris said. “I love his lines. I mean, he has a very solid background in drawing…. So his attention to lines and composition, all of those skills from his training, and then his combination with the medium of screen printing is quite remarkable.
Stovall developed his techniques while studying under the tutelage of major American artists at Howard University – David Driskell, James Wells and Lois Mailou Jones. “While he was in school and also working at another screen printing sign shop called Botkin’s Sign Shop in Silver Spring, Maryland, he also became involved in designing posters for local events. related to arts activism, concerts, festivals, etc.,” Harris recounted. “Then he started to really hone his technique.”
As Stovall’s artistry gained attention, he undertook collaborations spanning the American art world with artists like Alexander Calder and Jacob Lawrence. Wherever screen printing was needed, Stovall would provide his unique take on dozens of repeatable, eye-catching images in a visual style iconic for 1960s America. “You couldn’t help but be a part of what was happening around of you, and in particular in Washington, DC, [with] from protest marches to cultural events where people were redefining what it meant to be American in particular, I would say it was very easy for him to be a part of that larger community activism through his art,” Harris said.
The 1974 collection shares its name, “Of the Land”, with a recently published book on Stovall’s multidisciplinary art and poetry, edited by his son, Will Stovall. Among other works, the Georgia Museum of Art exhibit features pieces from Stovall’s 1974 “Of the Land” series, showing a naturalistic side to the artist with carefully applied silkscreen techniques to landscapes. “I call them tondo, or circular images of natural landscapes and nature — trees, rivers, birds floating above a landscape scene,” Harris said. “It’s almost like a stereoscopic image of nature, where he’s able to take a lot of his memories of growing up in Springfield.”
“Lou Stovall: Of Land and Origins” is on view at UGA’s Georgia Museum of Art through May 29. More information is available at https://georgiamuseum.org/exhibit/lou-stovall/.