Introducing events featuring “Stephen Towns: Declaration & Resistance” at Reynolda

“Stephen Towns: Declaration & Resistance” is on view in the Mary and Charlie Babcock Wing Gallery at Reynolda House Museum of American Art from February 18 to May 14, 2023. In the exhibition, painter and fiber artist Stephen Towns has created paintings and story quilts that expand the historical narratives of enslaved and free people who toiled under the most extreme hardships, yet persevered through acts of rebellion, skillful guile and self-willed determination.

“‘Declaration & Resistance’s’ sojourn to Reynolda House feels like a homecoming of sorts. I haven’t had a solo exhibition in the south since I moved from Lincolnville, South Carolina, to Baltimore in 2008,” said Towns. My residency [last summer] at Reynolda provided insight into the people and the history of Winston-Salem. I’m looking forward to sharing my portrait of Flora Pledger and Lillie Hamlin that I painted in homage to the legacy of the industrious people of Five Row.”

To complement the exhibition, Reynolda is offering several related events—including one on opening day at the Museum with the artist and curator.

“Healers, Guardians, and Nurturers,” a panel discussion with artist Stephen Towns and curator Kilolo Luckett, will be moderated by Dr. Paul Baker of the Contemporary Art Museum in Raleigh, N.C., and will be held on Saturday, February 18, from 11 a.m.–12:30 p.m. The conversation will focus on the inspiration behind the exhibition, specifically the role African Americans have played in shaping the American economy.

Tickets are free with museum admission and may be purchased online. The event will also be livestreamed, free of charge. Register for the livestream in advance or tune in on Reynolda’s YouTube channel.

“We are excitedly anticipating this rare distinction to host a living artist at Reynolda on the occasion of an exhibition opening,” said Executive Director of Reynolda House Allison Perkins. “‘Declaration & Resistance’ is a bold and moving body of work, and I look forward to witnessing its impact in our community over the next three months.”

Additional events include:

  • Reynolda On the House
    February 23, 4–7 p.m., and March 19, 1:30–4:30 p.m.
    Reynolda On the House offers a free opportunity to view “Stephen Towns: Declaration & Resistance,” along with exhibitions on view in the historic house. In February, Reynolda On the House will celebrate love and resilience with spoken word artists (and couple) LB the Poet & Ely B, who will perform at 5:30 and 6 p.m. In March, Reynolda On the House will celebrate music with singer, historian and educator Mary D. Williams offering a special musical performance at 3 p.m. Reynolda On the House is generously supported by Salemtowne Retirement Community.
  • A Study of Self-Emancipation: Poetry Workshop with Authoring Action!
    March 31, 9:30 a.m.–3 p.m.
    $50, 20% discount for Museum Members
    Inspired by “Ona Judge Escapes” (2021) in “Stephen Towns: Declaration & Resistance,” workshop attendees will explore the theme of self-emancipation from past to present and gain transformative personal insight through reflection, conversation and writing. At the conclusion of the workshop, participants will have created an original work of poetry. Price includes a boxed lunch. Learn more about Authoring Action! at
  • Community Day
    April 29, 9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
    Celebrate self-expression and empowerment with Reynolda during Community Day when museum admission is free for all. Performances and programming, including hands-on art activities, throughout the day will be inspired by “Stephen Towns: Declaration & Resistance.” Big Bang Boom—a band that mixes genres to create music that is fun, parent-friendly and educational—will perform at 11 a.m.

“Stephen Towns: Declaration & Resistance” is organized and toured by The Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. The exhibition 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.

Reynolda is grateful for the support of major sponsors the Arts Council of Winston-Salem & Forsyth County, the Cathleen and Ray McKinney Exhibition Fund, First Horizon, Novant Health, and Womble Bond Dickinson; contributing sponsors Pam and Fred Kahl and Terrie and John Davis; and exhibition partner The Robert and Constance Emken Fund of The Winston-Salem Foundation.

About Stephen Towns

Stephen Towns was born in 1980 in Lincolnville, South Carolina and lives and works in Baltimore. He received a Bachelor of Fine Art in painting from the University of South Carolina and has also developed a rigorous, self-taught quilting practice. In 2018, The Baltimore Museum of Art presented his first museum exhibition, “Stephen Towns: Rumination and a Reckoning.” His work has been exhibited locally and 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, The Washington Post, Hyperallergic, Cultured, AFROPUNK, HYPEBEAST, 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 Maryland State Arts Council’s Individual Artist Award. Towns’s work is in the collections of The National Museum of African American History and Culture, Art + Practice, artist Mark Bradford’s nonprofit based in Leimert Park, Los Angeles, The Petrucci Family Foundation, The Baltimore Museum of Art, the City of Charleston, South Carolina, The Nelson Atkins Museum, St. Louis, Missouri, and is held in private collections nationally and abroad.

About Kilolo Luckett

Kilolo Luckett is a Pittsburgh-based art historian and curator. With over 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. She is also currently writing an authorized biography on Naomi Sims, one of the first Black supermodels.

February 14, 2023
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