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Stephen Towns’ Private Paradise: A Figurative Exploration of Black Rest and Recreation

From September 21, 2024 to January 19, 2025

Location: Spotlight Gallery (Floor 1M)

Inspired by Black American History, Stephen Towns creates paintings and quilts that bring these sometimes hidden stories back into the light. In Towns’s most recent series, he explores Paradise Park, a segregated park in mid-20th century Silver Springs, Florida. Connecting the photographs and the stories of those who worked, created and visited the park, Towns gives viewers a glimpse of a free space to be Black in a region with few opportunities for equality.

Courtesy of the Artist.

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About the Artist

Portrait of artist Stephen Towns. Towns is sitting in a backwards chair facing the viewer.
Portrait of artist Stephen Towns by Malik Dupree.

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’s 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.