Dundalk show exhibits silk-screen versatility

February 04, 1992|By John Dorsey | John Dorsey,Art Critic

LOU STOVALL has had a silk-screen printmaking studio in Washington since 1968, and in the intervening 23 years has made prints for about 80 artists, by his own estimate. Last year a group show of works by some of those artists, and Stovall himself, opened at the African-American Atelier in Greensboro, N.C., and then went to the Corcoran Gallery in Washington.

A smaller version of that show has opened at Dundalk Community College in celebration of Black History Month. Called "Heroes, Teachers and Friends," it contains 24 works by Stovall and 11 colleagues for whom he has made silk-screen prints of their works, including such famous artists as Jacob Lawrence, Elizabeth Catlett and Sam Gilliam.

One of the most interesting aspects of the show is that it exhibits a range of effects possible with the medium. There are the bright, hard colors of Lloyd McNeill's "Rainbow People," the crisp edges and bright light of A. Brockie Stevenson's "Debbie's November," the blending, layering and modulations of color and the soft, shifting light of Lois Milou Jones' "A Shady Nook," the textured surface of Sam Gilliam's "For Xavier."

Then there is an equally wide range of subject matter. Some works deal with social and particularly racial issues, such as Lawrence's works from the series on Toussaint L'Ouverture, the hero of Haiti, and Catlett's "Three Women of America."

In this print, three races (white, African American, American Indian), represented by faces and hands, overlap so that they face the viewer as both three and one. This symbolism suggests the ideal that races can integrate without sacrificing individual identity, and it also has religious overtones, recalling the Christian trinity. This trinity, however, is female, as Catlett's "Madonna II" is black.

Stovall's own work, on the other hand, deals with nature and the seasons in a romantic way, as in "Morning Streams" or "My Springtime Heart," while Gilliam's prints, like his paintings, are strongly colored abstractions, and James L. Wells' "Still Life With Violin" contributes the only example of that genre.

One of the major impressions left by this show is of the strength of Lawrence's work. It's so energetic, dramatic and urgent that it makes some of the other works here look a bit flaccid in comparison. It's not easy to share a gallery with Jacob Lawrence.

The show runs through March 1 at the art gallery, college community center, Dundalk Community College, 7200 Sollers Point Road. Call (410) 285-9876.

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