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 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.
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.
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 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
1. Burchard, Hank. "The Stovalls: Their Art Is an Inspiration," The Washington Post, 23 September 1983.
Artists' websites: Di Bagley Stovall | Stovall 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.
Smith, Harrison. "Lou Stovall, Washington Artist and Master Printmaker," The Washington Post, 5 March, 2023, p. C1, C8.
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.
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
Conversation with Lou, Di, and Will Stovall, along with Mary Early of Hemphill, Washington Print Club, 23 June 2021.
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.