Originally from Charleston, South Carolina, Stephen Towns is a mixed-media artist and muralist currently based out of Baltimore, Maryland. Towns holds a BFA in Studio Art from the University of South Carolina and is a Program Coordinator in the Office of Community Engagement at Maryland Institute School of Arts (MICA).
As “post-racial” America morphs slowly into cliché, Towns work is deeply rooted in the reality of race and its efforts on society and more importantly the legacy of effect on Americans. For his first solo show at the trending CA Gallery in Baltimore, Maryland, Towns paints “co|patriot.” “co|patriot” is the pathway to a much hyped post-racial society. Through his new series of breathtaking portraits, Towns boldly constructs the notion that before we, Americans, can live harmoniously together, we must first see each other, invest fully in one another, socialize together in order to co-exist happily together. Before we can start to melt together, we must be co|patriots.
Working primarily in oil and acrylic, Towns draws much of his visual inspiration from Medieval altarpieces, impressionist paintings, and wax cloth prints. Commenting on his work, Towns notes, “All of my work is rooted in my growing up in the Deep South. Furthermore, my much of my work is in response to the issues that have plagued African-American culture – issues such as loss of ancestral roots, slavery, class, education, skin tone and religion. The portraits I create are not only glimpses of the sitters; they are also a reflection of myself and mirror my struggle to attain a sense of self-knowledge, self-worth and spirituality beyond the Christian values that are often idealized in African-American culture. I want to create beauty from the hardships in life.”
Towns’ work is in the City of Charleston, South Carolina’s permanent collection. His murals have been commissioned for youth organizations, school and churches along the Eastern Seaboard.