V

Narratives of African American Art and Identity

Lou Stovall

Breathing Hope, 1996

Silk-screen on paper

14.5" x 14.5"


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Breathing Hope

Breathing Hope is an original silk-screen print of a black orchid created by master printmaker, craftsman, and poet Lou Stovall to commemorate the inauguration of Howard University's fifteenth president, H. Patrick Swyggert. Stovall chose the image of the perennial black orchid to symbolize the leadership, resurgence, and revitalization of Swyggert's presidency.

Stovall learned the value of printmaking from his mentor, Howard art professor and printmaker James Lesesne Wells. He states, "Wells knew more about making prints than anyone–more than books, I would say, and he was the most patient man that I have ever known." In addition to Wells, Stovall also cites Loïs Jones, Jacob Lawrence, James A. Porter, and David C. Driskell as influential mentors.

Since 1966, Stovall's passion for printmaking and his innovative techniques have attracted innumerable commissions to print works from a number of artists such as Josef Albers, Alexander Calder, Elizabeth Catlett, Jeff Donaldson, David C. Driskell, Sam Gilliam, Jacob Lawrence, and James Lesesne Wells. Over the years Stovall has not only benefited from the influence and knowledge of his mentors and peers but also has given much back. Breathing Hope is only one of many prints created by Stovall to commemorate important events within the African American community. Like his mentors who came before him, Stovall values the concept of giving back to the community and sharing his knowledge and wisdom through his own example and through apprenticeships to young artists in his Washington, D. C.-based studio, Workshop, Inc., established in 1968.  T. F.

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