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The Anacostia Community Museum’s indoor gallery will be closed Sept. 18 through Oct. 31 as we bring our next exhibition to life. Even though our gallery is closed, join us at any of the dynamic upcoming events planned over the next 6 weeks. More information about our events is available at: anacostia.si.edu/events. We look forward to seeing you soon!

Lou and Di Stovall

A color photograph of four people standing in an art gallery.

Di Bagley Stovall, an unidentified woman, Lou Stovall, and Suzanna Bryan Singer at the Parish Gallery's 1997 exhibition of artworks by Di Bagley Stovall and Singer. Parish Gallery records, 1940-2013, bulk 1991-2013. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Washington, DC became home to Lou Stovall and Di Bagley Stovall in the 1960s. Though each is an artist in their own right, they are renowned for collaboration. Their studio, Workshop, Inc., has long been a space for creating silkscreen prints with an array of artists, among them Josef Albers, Elizabeth Catlett, Gene Davis, David Driskell, Sam Gilliam, Jacob Lawrence, Samella Lewis, Lloyd McNeill, and Paul Reed.  

In an art studio, Lou Stovall lifts a silkscreen frame while Di Stovall places a print on a rack to dry. Visible on a different rack in the foreground is a silkscreened poster for a Roberta Flack concert.

Lou and Di Stovall at work in their S Street Studio, Washington, DC, 1973. Through Their Eyes exhibition catalogue, ©1983. Anacostia Community Museum, Smithsonian Institution.

In 1983, the Stovalls teamed up with the Anacostia Community Museum for the exhibition, Through Their Eyes: The Art of Lou and Di Stovall. Individual works by each artist were on view along with a jointly-crafted, three-dimensional artwork. Also on display were silkscreen posters designed and printed collaboratively with Patricia Benson, Sam Gilliam, Lloyd McNeill, and Walter Hopps. 

Five framed silkscreen prints hang on a gallery wall painted gray at the Anacostia Community Museum in 2015.

Silkscreen posters exhibited in Through Their Eyes in 1983 were on display again at the Anacostia Community Museum in 2015.
Left to right: "Peace Corps," Lou Stovall, 1971; "Feed Kids," Lloyd McNeill and Lou Stovall, 1969; "32nd Biennial of Contemporary American Painting, Corcoran Gallery," Walter Hopps and Lou Stovall, 1971; "My Brother's Keeper," Patricia Benson and Lou Stovall, 1969; and, "Bikes Have Equal Rights," Lou Stovall, 1969. Photo by Susana Raab. Anacostia Community Museum, Smithsonian Institution.

In one of two films made for the Through Their Eyes exhibit, Lou Stovall follows the artist into the studio and documents his innovative silkscreen printing, which transformed a commercial process into a fine art. Using as many as seventy-six colors when printing on paper, his translations of oils and acrylics evoke sculptural, painterly qualities. Lou Stovall recalls counting blades of grass, for example, with painter Jacob Lawrence by phone as they worked on The Burning from Lawrence's series, The Life of Toussiant L'Ouverture. (They could hear, but not see, one another in the era before smart phones.)

The Stovalls' influence is evident within the Anacostia Community Museum's collection, such as in posters for The New Thing's Jazz Workshop by artist-musician Lloyd McNeill, a friend, frequent collaborator, and co-founder of Workshop, Inc.

Mottled purple and mauve bird-like wings emerge from a torso wearing a three-piece suit. The suit's styling, including a ribbon rather than a tie and a vest with scalloped edges, suggest it was designed for a woman.

"Feeling Good," created by Di Stovall and printed by Workshop, Inc., for the BLK Group's portfolio, Equal Opportunity Employment Is the Law, 1973. Screenprint on paper. Smithsonian American Art Museum. Gift of the BLK Group, Inc.

The Stovalls are also represented individually and as co-collaborators with artists throughout the Smithsonian's collection. For example, BLK Group published Equal Opportunity Employment Is the Law, a portfolio featuring prints by Di Stovall, Lou Stovall, Sam Gilliam, Ed McGowin, and Lloyd McNeill, among others. 

The outline of a human face appears behind a bird with wings in sections of yellow, black, and browns. The bird balances its body on a branch, out of which extend tendrils of tree roots. A yellow column with white letters next to the face in profile contains text reading "God is an equal opportunity employer."
"Be," created by Lou Stovall and printed by Workshop, Inc., for the BLK Group's portfolio, Equal Opportunity Employment Is the Law, 1973. Screenprint on paper. Smithsonian American Art Museum. Gift of the BLK Group, Inc.

The Stovalls might have first connected with the Anacostia Community Museum in the early 1970s through the District of Columbia Art Association (DCAA), whose co-founders included Loïs Mailou Jones, one of Lou Stovall's professors at Howard University. Lou Stovall served as a juror for DCAA's annual art show, Exhibition 1974-75. Fast forward forty years and Stovall screenprints were on exhibit to accompany the Anacostia Community Museum's exhibition Twelve Years that Shaped and Shook Washington, DC: 1963-1975.

For over sixty years, Lou and Di Stovall have added to the District's artscape and nurtured its artistic community. In 2022, at least three exhibits in Washington, DC feature the Stovall Workshop (see "Exhibitions" below). As art critic Hank Burchard concluded his review of Through Their Eyes,

The Stovalls have been working jointly and severally in Washington for many years now, and through the Corcoran and a number of studios have inspired and trained a whole generation of art students. May they live and work forever.1   

Note

1. Burchard, Hank. "The Stovalls: Their Art Is an Inspiration," The Washington Post, 23 September 1983.

Resources

Artists' websites: Di Bagley StovallStovall Workshop

Art in Embassies: Lou Stovall, United States Department of State

McDonough, Anne. "Di and Lou Stovall to Receive History Award," DC History Center, 25 August 2017.

Richard, Paul. "Art and Energy," The Washington Post, 13 November 1974, B13.

——"Lou Stovall, Prince of Prints: Howard Exhibition Traces Colorful Career of Silk-Screens," The Washington Post, 4 October 2001, p. C1, C5.

Stamberg, Susan. "How Lou Stovall Took Silkscreen Printing from Grocery Stores to Gallery Walls," National Public Radio, 5 February 2022.

Stovall, Will, ed. Of the Land: The Art and Poetry of Lou Stovall. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2022.

Tyman, Kathleen. "The Stovalls Live for Beauty's Sake," The Washington Times, 7 October 1983.

Exhibitions

Lou Stovall: The Museum Workshop, Phillips Collection, July 23 - October 9, 2022

Lou Stovall: On Inventions and Color and Of the Land: Lou Stovall and the Poetry of Seasons, Kreeger Museum, February 1 - April 30, 2022

Lou Stovall, Anacostia Community Museum, December 14, 2015 - October 30, 2016

Through Their Eyes: The Art of Lou and Di Stovall, Anacostia Community Museum, September 18, 1983 - March 4, 1984

Video

Conversation with Lou, Di, and Will Stovall, along with Mary Early of Hemphill, Washington Print Club, 23 June 2021.

WETA Around Town: 1963-1975 

Public Art

View Lou Stovall's posters on permanent exhibit at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library (Peace Corps and DC Department of Motor Vehicles' campaign, "Bicycles Have Equal Rights") 

Walk in Washington, DC's Cleveland Park neighborhood to see the Stovalls' "Art on Call" boxes.

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