Stephen Towns: Declaration & Resistance Catalog Examines
the American Dream through the Lives of Black Americans 

GREENSBURG, Pennsylvania (April 17, 2023) – The Westmoreland Museum of American Art is proud to announce the publication of Stephen Towns: Declaration & Resistance, edited by Kilolo Luckett and designed by Morcos Key. The catalog features work created by figurative painter and fiber artist Stephen Towns for the exhibition by the same name. Using labor as a backdrop, Towns’ works highlight the role African Americans have played in the economy and explores the resilience, resistance, and endurance that have challenged the United States to truly embrace the tenets of its Declaration of Independence. 

"Much of the work in Declaration & Resistance began when I was quarantining in the spring of 2020. I thought about how I had the privilege to take a step away from my work. When I returned to my studio, I reflected on how I had gained a deeper appreciation for essential workers risking their lives in the midst of a global health crisis. I come from a long line of laborers in Georgia and South Carolina. Prior to being a full-time Artist, I also worked many laborious jobs. This collection is a testament to my ancestors," indicated Towns.  

For the exhibition, Towns created over 30 new figurative paintings and story quilts that expand the historical narratives of enslaved and free people who toiled under the most extreme hardships yet persevered through acts of rebellion, skillful guile and self-willed determination. Working in series, Towns explores industries such as coal mining, agriculture and domestic labor. 

The exhibition was organized by curator Kilolo Luckett.  

“I’m very committed to questions around American patriotism, exceptionalism and labor. I’m also interested in querying the foundations of belonging and access, and unsettle some of the assumptions we have. Through his beautifully imposing quilts and mixed-media paintings, Stephen offers viewers sobering truths and tender stories of Black life that break away from dominant narratives that continue to plague society in the United States of America,” Luckett stated.

The 132-page soft cover catalog, priced at $25, is available for purchase online at

Stephen Towns: Declaration & Resistance exhibition debuted at The Westmoreland from January 30 – May 8, 2022 before traveling to two additional venues: Boise Art Museum, Boise, ID (June 11 – September 18, 2022), and Reynolda House Museum of American Art, Winston-Salem, NC (February 17, 2023 – May 14, 2023). 

Stephen Towns: Declaration & Resistance catalog is generously supported by Arts, Equity, & Education Fund. Arts, Equity, & Education Fund celebrates diverse voices in the arts. Through underwriting publications such as Stephen Towns: Declaration & Resistance, AE&E Fund empowers artists to create lasting documentation of their work, inspire scholarship, and inform future generations of art enthusiasts. 

Support for catalog promotion provided by De Buck Gallery. 

Stephen Towns: Declaration & Resistance exhibition is supported by Eden Hall Foundation; The Heinz Endowments; the Hillman Exhibition Fund of The Westmoreland Museum of American Art; Arts, Equity, & Education Fund; the National Endowment for the Arts, and De Buck Gallery. Additional funding provided in part by a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of Recreation and Conservation, Environmental Stewardship Fund, administered by the Rivers of Steel Heritage Corporation.

About Stephen Towns:  
Stephen Towns was born in 1980 in Lincolnville, SC, and lives and works in Baltimore, MD. He trained as a painter with a BFA in studio art from the University of South Carolina and has also developed a rigorous, self-taught quilting practice. In 2018, the Baltimore Museum of Art presented his first museum exhibition, Stephen Towns: Rumination and a Reckoning. His work has been featured in publications such as The New York Times, Artforum, The Washington Post, Hyperallergic, Cultured, Forbes, AFROPUNK, and American Craft. Towns was honored as the inaugural recipient of the 2016 Municipal Art Society of Baltimore Travel Prize, and in 2021, Towns was the first Black artist-in-residence at the Fallingwater Institute, located at Frank Lloyd Wrights' renowned Fallingwater house in Pennsylvania. In 2021 Towns was also awarded the Maryland State Arts Council’s Individual Artist Award. Towns’ work is in the collections of Art + Practice (Los Angeles, CA), the Baltimore Museum of Art (Baltimore, MD), the Boise Museum of Art, (Boise, ID), the City of Charleston (Charleston, SC), the Flint Institute of Arts (Flint, MI), the Huntington Museum of Art (Huntington, WV), the National Museum of African American History and Culture (Washington DC); Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (Kansas City, MO), the Petrucci Family Foundation Collection of African American Art (Asbury, NJ); the Rockwell Museum (Corning, NY); The Westmoreland Museum of American Art (Greensburg, PA); the Wichita Museum of Art (Wichita, KS), and is held in private collections nationally and abroad.  

About Kilolo Luckett:  
Kilolo Luckett is a Pittsburgh-based art historian and curator. With over twenty-five years of experience in arts administration and cultural production, she is committed to elevating the voices of underrepresented visual artists, especially Black and Brown artists. Luckett is Founding Executive Director and Chief Curator of ALMA|LEWIS (named after abstract artists Alma Thomas and Norman Lewis), an experimental, contemporary art platform for critical thinking, constructive dialogue, and creative expression dedicated to Black culture. Among the many exhibitions to her credit are Familiar Boundaries. Infinite Possibilities (2018), Resurgence – Rise Again: The Art of Ben Jones (2019), I Came by Boat So Meet Me at the Beach by Ayana Evans and Tsedaye Makonnen (2020), Vanishing Black Bars & Lounges: Photographs by L. Kasimu Harris (2020), and co-curated SLAY: Artemisia Gentileschi & Kehinde Wiley (2022). Luckett has curated exhibitions by national and international artists such as Peju Alatise, Lizania Cruz, Martha Jackson Jarvis, Thaddeus Mosley, Tajh Rust, Devan Shimoyama, Shikeith, and Stephen Towns. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, BOMB, Hyperallergic, Juxtapoz, HYPEBEAST, and Saveur among others.  

About Morcos Key:  
Morcos Key is a Brooklyn-based design studio collaborating with arts & cultural institutions, such as The Studio Museum of Harlem, Yale University School of Art, and Penguin Random House. Morcos Key’s work translates their clients’ stories into visual systems that demonstrate how thoughtful conversation and formal expression make for impactful design. Past projects include Black Futures by Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham, The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Winslow Homer: Crosscurrents, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Charles Ray: Figure Ground. 

About The Westmoreland Museum of American Art:  
Western Pennsylvania’s only museum dedicated to American art, The Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, is a place to share meaningful cultural experiences that open the door to new ideas, perspectives and possibilities. The Westmoreland’s permanent collection with its strong focus on the art and artists of Southwestern Pennsylvania is complemented by an impressive temporary exhibition schedule featuring both nationally traveling exhibitions and those organized by the Museum. Additionally, The Westmoreland presents a full slate of community-oriented programming as well as special events. Past catalogs published by the Museum include Simple Pleasures: The Art of Doris Lee and A Timeless Perfection: American Figurative Sculpture in the Classical Spirit.  

More information is available at