"See with fresh eyes!"
---Charles Stonewall, artist
I'm interrupting my summer-blog-break with this necessary blog post: my recent Easton Irregular article (July-August 2017) featuring the local artist, Charles Stonewall. You can pick up copies around town, at Just Around the Corner, and the Public Market. Or, read it here on my blog!
The photographs of Charles Stonewall are striking, sensitive, and brimming with suggested narrative. Whether the photos are portraits, photojournalism, or performance-inspired scenes, they all share a powerful emotional element and a strong composition, making use of exaggerated contrasts of light and shadow.
Stonewall was born and raised in South Side, Easton, in an impoverished environment. Despite the many challenges of his childhood, he was lucky to have a loving ally, his grandmother. She bought him his first camera when he was 14. This started him on his life’s journey as a photographer, and he has enjoyed many successes along the way, not the least of which includes one of his photographs in an exhibit at the Louvre, in Paris! Stonewall is a strong advocate of the power of possibilities, perseverance, and resilience.
In 1980 and 1981, Stonewall was responsible for the first ever black artist exhibitions in the Lehigh Valley. He and other artists formed a group called the Cultural Enrichment Committee, the intent of which was to provide a voice for those who were underrepresented and often ignored. The exhibitions took place in what is now the Wells Fargo Bank in the Centre Square in downtown Easton.
Stonewall moved to the Midwest in 1998 and attended the Kansas City Art Institute, which helped him to be able to “see with fresh eyes”. Traveling to the Midwest taught him about the benefits of being daring enough to step outside of one’s comfort zone and to believe in oneself.
He returned to the Lehigh Valley in 2013, where he lives and works today.
Currently, Stonewall is working on a series that he describes as conceptual art. These are photographs of organic forms, like flowers and leaves, and can be interpreted as inner landscapes. “What do I look like inside?” he asks, as part of his motivation for this series. “I believe there is great beauty inside. Hopefully it triggers a thought with the viewer, and they can start to discover their own inner beauty…We are complicated people!”
Charles Stonewall’s work can be viewed this summer at the an exhibition in Bethlehem, PA:
The Bethlehem Fine Arts Commission is pleased to present the Fourth Biennial Self-Portrait Exhibition entitled “Expressions: A Self-Portrait Show" featuring known artists, as well as prominent citizens in the local community who have agreed to take on the challenge of a self-portrait. The portraits will be on display from July 12 through August 29 at the Rotunda Gallery at Town Hall, 10 East Church Street, Bethlehem, PA 18018.