Will Henry Stevens, Untitled, pastel on paper, 18 x 22 in. Lent courtesy of Blue Spiral 1, Asheville, NC.

The Huntsville Museum of Art will present the work of Will Henry Stevens, an American artist and teacher. Regarded today as a pioneer in the field of Southern art, Stevens worked in two distinct artistic styles: Representational Naturalism and Southern Modernism. The artist separated his two bodies of work during his lifetime, exhibiting his rural landscapes and his non-objective abstractions at different galleries. Though seemingly disconnected, Stevens’ distinct styles are part of a larger whole – each influenced by his reverence for the Southern landscape.

Will Henry Stevens, Untitled, oil on linen on board, 18 x 14 in. Lent courtesy of Blue Spiral 1, Asheville, NC.

Although born and raised in Indiana, Stevens spent much of his adult life teaching in New Orleans and summering near Asheville, North Carolina. Those environments, particularly the rivers and bayous of Louisiana and the Southern Appalachian mountains, inspired him to capture the changing landscapes in his colorful and lyrical works. Living in a time marked by great change, Stevens constantly adapted his artistic style and media throughout his career, but his engaging work never lost its inextricable link to nature.

From the early 1920s through the late 1940s, Stevens exhibited regionally and nationally to critical acclaim. Unlike most of his contemporaries, Stevens pursued an independent path as an artist. In 1940, Stevens reflected on his unique approach to artmaking, saying, “It has been my experience…gradually to depart from the representation of surface appearance and to develop symbols expressive of cosmic values. There is always the desire to express the harmonious interconnection of each and every element, and to create a feeling of wholeness more satisfying than our ordinary experience in time.”

Will Henry Stevens: Naturalist/Modernist includes 54 works in oil, pastel and watercolor, hand-selected from the estate of the artist. The captivating exhibition, sponsored by Blue Spiral 1 in Asheville, NC, opens to the public at the Huntsville Museum of Art on February 7, 2021 and closes on April 25, 2021. Will Henry Stevens: Naturalist/Modernist will be on display in the Huth, Salmon and Boeing I galleries and will be included with the general price of admission. Tickets can be purchased at the front desk in the lobby of the Museum or online here. The Huntsville Museum of Art asks that visitors wear a face mask at all times while inside.

Following its run in Huntsville, the Museum will make the exhibit available for touring nationally.