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Lou Stovall, a Black master print-maker and artist, was born on this date in 1937.
Born in Athens, Georgia, he grew up in Springfield, MA, where he attended Technical High School. Stovall initially studied art at the Rhode Island School of Design and at Howard University where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Since 1962, he lived and worked in Washington, D.C. Over the years he has won numerous awards, but perhaps his most enduring legacy is his work in the community.
Over the years, numerous people took the time to help Stovall. He learned from them, his family, teachers, and others the importance of sharing. If you have a good thing and keep it to yourself, Stovall learned, you will have to live knowing that you purposely gave up the opportunity to help someone. It was that spirit of community that Lou Stovall took with him when he began his professional career.
In the 1960s, he was given the opportunity to create his own workshop. With the help of benefactors Philip and Leni Stern, Stovall, in 1968, he was able to set up The Workshop Inc. in which anyone who wanted to learn with him could come and do so. The rules of Workshop, Inc., were that Stovall would teach anyone who wanted to learn, as long as they agreed to stay around to teach someone else.
Workshop, Inc., has not changed much over the years. It is not only a place to learn silk screening techniques but a forum for discussing and encouraging creativity. His own prints and drawings are part of numerous public and private collections throughout the world, including the George Walter Vincent Smith Museum in Springfield. The recognition he has received as a master in this field has gained him commissions to print works of such noted artists as Josef Albers, Peter Blume, Alexander Calder, Elizabeth Catlett, Gene Davis, David Driskell, Sam Gilliam, Lois Mailou Jones, Jacob Lawrence, Robert Mangold, Mathieu Mategot, A. Brockie Stevenson, and James L. Wells.
Through his Workshop, Inc., he has made a unique effort to build a community of artists in Washington and to encourage, by his own example, service in the community. Among his special commissions, he designed the Independence Day invitation for the White House in 1982 at the request of Nancy Reagan. In 1986, at the request of Mayor Marion Barry, he made the print American Beauty Rose for the Washington, D.C. Area Host Committee 1988 Democratic National Convention. In 1996, he designed and made the print Breathing Hope to honor Howard University's incoming president H. Patrick Swygert. He also designed and created stunning prints for President Barack Obama’s inauguration.
A History of African American Artist from 1792 to present
By Romare Bearden & Harry Henderson
Copyright 1993 by Romare Bearden & Harry Henderson
Pantheon Books, NY
© Photograph by Carol Harrison