Join artist Stephen Towns and curator Kilolo Luckett as they have conversation livestreamed from Fallingwater during Towns multi-week artist residency with the Fallingwater Institute, which is Fallingwater’s immersive program for creative collaboration and inspired thinking. They will discuss the body of work that Towns is creating for his upcoming exhibition “Stephen Towns: Declaration & Resistance” at The Westmoreland Museum of American Art for which Luckett is serving as guest curator.
Additionally, they will each talk about their research work behind this exhibition, including Towns’ exploration into the life of Elsie Henderson, the long-time cook at Fallingwater for the Kaufmann family from 1947-1963, which he is conducting as part of his residency.
A portrait of Henderson by Towns will be one of the works featured in the exhibition at The Westmoreland. On view January 30 through April 24, 2022, Towns’ work will examine the American dream through the lives of Black Americans from the late 18th century to present. Using labor as a backdrop, Towns will highlight the role African Americans have played in shaping the economy and explore their resilience, resistance and endurance that have challenged the United States to truly embrace the tenants of its Declaration of Independence.
Stephen Towns is a painter and fiber artist from Baltimore, MD whose work explores how American history influences contemporary society. Towns received a Bachelor of Fine Art in painting from the University of South Carolina, and 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.” His work has been exhibited locally and nationally, including solo exhibitions at the Baltimore Museum of Art, Goucher College and Galerie Myrtis, as well as group exhibitions at Arlington Art Center, Montpelier Arts Center and the 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 Rubys Artist Grant in 2015. In 2018, Towns was a semi-finalist for Sondheim Artscape Prize and awarded a MD State Arts Council’s Individual Artist Award.
Kilolo Luckett is a Pittsburgh-based art historian and curator. 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. Luckett is founding executive director and chief curator of ALMA|LEWIS (named after abstract artists Alma Thomas and Norman Lewis), an experimental, contemporary art platform for critical thinking, dialogue, and creative expression dedicated to Black culture. She recently served as an Art Commissioner for the City of Pittsburgh’s Art Commission for 12 years. Luckett is guest curator of the upcoming exhibition titled, Stephen Towns: Declaration & Resistance, which opens January 30, 2022 at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art. She is also currently writing an authorized biography on Naomi Sims, one of the first Black supermodels.