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The Night Light Fell from the Sky

De Buck Gallery is delighted to announce the representation of Stephen Towns with an upcoming solo exhibition titled ‘The Night Light Fell from the Sky.’ This will be Towns’ first solo exhibition with the gallery and his first solo in New York. The exhibition will be on view from Thursday, Sept 26th, through Saturday, Oct 26th.

Stephen Towns is a painter and a fiber artist working primarily in oil, acrylic, and quilting and exploring how American history influences contemporary society. His paintings look at the African Diaspora and draw visual inspiration from Medieval altarpieces, impressionist paintings, and wax cloth prints. The work he creates is deeply rooted in the constructs of race and its effects on society. It is developed in direct response to issues that have affected African-American culture–issues such as loss of ancestral roots, slavery, class, education, skin tone, and religion. The subjects in Towns’ paintings are not only glimpses of the sitters; they are also a reflection of himself and mirror his struggle to attain a sense of self-knowledge, self-worth, and spirituality. His practice provides an avenue for him to process all that he has learned about the violence of American history and imparted a framework on how to navigate and articulate the current anger and frustration that exists throughout the world today.

His on-going quilt series celebrates the aesthetic traditions of African American women while exploring America’s history of slavery and labor. Towns is a self-taught quilter, and began the series in 2014 with the piece, Birth of a Nation, which was created to amplify the idea that “black women have in many ways fed a nation.” The quilts explore how fabric preserves memory, not only through the historical narratives Towns depicts of African Americans, including references to Nat Turner and most recently, Harriet Tubman, but also in his deeply personal connection to his materials. Towns weaves his connection to women’s history into the work by hand-stitching pieces of fabric worn by his mother and late sister, Mabel. Ten of Town’s quilts were featured in an exhibition in the American wing of the Baltimore Museum of Art in 2018.

On November 12, 1833, the Leonid meteor shower rained a dazzling array of light all over the night sky. Occurring 28 years before the American Civil War, this scene was so spectacular that it incited both fear and wonder all over the world. By showing the meteor shower through the experience of enslaved people at the time, the paintings and quilts in ‘The Night Light Fell from the Sky’ use this pivotal celestial event as a collective moment of freedom and revelation.

The exhibition is comprised of two series of works, “An Affirmation” and “A Declaration”. “An Affirmation” is a series of mixed-media works incorporating paint, metal leaf and fabric. Each work features a figure wading in water encompassed by the meteor shower. References for figures were borrowed from archival images of American Civil War contraband camps. Each image and title in the Affirmation series draws upon the ability of the individual to develop a powerful sense of self-awareness to declare their freedom. The works in “A Declaration” are a series of quilts revolving around collective thinking. Each quilt features a series of figures observing the meteor shower. The titles and images in each work allude to collective thinking and obstacles a group of people may endure in reaching a goal.

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Date

Sep 26 - Oct 26, 2019

Contact

collect@debuckgallery.com >

Photos

Installation view of The Night Light Fell from the Sky

De Buck Gallery, New York

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Installation view of The Night Light Fell from the Sky

De Buck Gallery, New York

Artworks

Stephen Towns > <

I will forever be free

I will find reverence within myself

I will find liberation

I will find peace

I will remain resolute

I will remain steadfast

We shall become fishers of men

We shall find a place of abundance

We shall reap a great harvest

We shall rest in the space between time

We shall traverse through windy shores

We shall traverse through windy shores

Stephen Towns > <

I will forever be free

I will find reverence within myself

I will find liberation

I will find peace

I will remain resolute

I will remain steadfast

We shall become fishers of men

We shall find a place of abundance

We shall reap a great harvest

We shall rest in the space between time

We shall traverse through windy shores

We shall traverse through windy shores

Artists

Stephen Towns

Lincolnville