Press Releases Archived All Stories

Painter Stanley Lewis featured Sept. 25 in first of five artist talks through November: WCSU to present fall semester M.F.A. artist lecture series

DANBURY, CONN. — Five critically acclaimed artists whose paintings, illustrations and mixed-media works have been shown internationally will discuss their artistic philosophies and creative process during the Western Connecticut State University fall semester Master of Fine Arts lecture series continuing from Sept. 25 through Nov. 20, 2017.

All lectures, sponsored by the WCSU Department of Art M.F.A. in Visual Arts program, will be at 11 a.m. in Room 144 of the Visual and Performing Arts Center on the WCSU  Westside campus, 43 Lake Ave. Extension in Danbury. Admission will be free and the public is invited; registration is suggested at

The series will begin on Monday, Sept. 25, with a lecture by painter Stanley Lewis, an M.F.A. graduate of Yale University and recipient of Danforth and Guggenheim fellowships whose artistic career spans more than five decades. His numerous solo and group exhibitions have included shows at the Betty Cunningham and Bowery galleries, the New York Studio School, the Katzen Art Center at American University, and the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey. He has served as art teacher and critic at institutions including NYSS, Kansas City Art Institute, American University and Smith College, and his works are held in the National Academy Museum, William Louis-Dreyfus Foundation and other major collections.

Lewis frequently employs a “cut and assemble” process to create layered paintings and drawings with textured bas-relief surfaces. David Carbone observed in the online magazine Artcritical that Lewis portrays “deliberately banal subjects — backyards, suburban scenes, calendar views of Lake Chautauqua — transformed by a brilliant but tortured way of realizing a painterly image that can yield work of rare satisfaction and ambition. The fascination he arouses comes partially from an almost irreconcilable tension between working directly from observation with exacting attention to small forms, and a very contemporary, almost sculptural painting process that builds a work with obsessively dense materiality.”  Julian Keimer wrote in Art in America that “the frenetic intensity he brings to capturing his hushed suburban landscape is humbling.”

Other presentations featured in the fall 2017 M.FA. artist lecture series will include:

  • Monday, Oct. 9: Painter Kyle Staver, a Minnesota native who now works in New York, holds an M.F.A. from Yale University and has earned numerous honors including the Louis Comfort Tiffany Award, the National Academy Museum Altman Figure Prize, the Guggenheim Fellowship and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Purchase Prize. In his blog on the Huffington Post, critic William Eckhardt Kohler described Staver among the foremost contemporary artists in “the grand Western figurative tradition,” noting that she has found “new joy and invention in its language” to create figures with “monumentality as if they had been pulled and molded directly out of clay…. Staver makes paintings that she views as manifestations of personal feeling and experience through the symbolic language of myth.” She has shown her works at galleries and museums in New York, Pennsylvania and California, and has been a visiting artist at many art schools and universities including WCSU.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 24: Illustrator Guy Billout began his career in advertising in his native France before moving to the United States in 1969, bringing an improvised and unique portfolio of illustrations that was published in entirety by New York magazine. Billout has established a distinctively minimalist style that uses dramatic imagery with clean lines in ironic illustrations published over more than four decades in The Atlantic, The New Yorker, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stone and other national publications. Upon his Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame induction in 2016, design critic Veronique Vienne described Billout as “the Buster Keaton of the illustration world. His illustrations represent acrobatic feats of mental agility in which events challenge the law of physics and logic — inverted perspectives, gravity-defying structures, upside-down skies, large objects sinking into shallow puddles — yet his characters retain a sense of composure no matter what.” He also has authored books including five works that earned selection by the New York Times for Best Illustrated Children’s Books.
  • Monday, Nov. 6: Painter, drawer and collage artist Stephanie Franks creates her works at a studio in her native New York City and has participated in more than 60 exhibitions during the past 32 years at sites in the United States and abroad including the Bowery Gallery, the Sideshow Gallery, the National Academy Museum, the New York Studio School, the New Bedford Art Museum and Haverford College. Her works were featured in Japan at a show for four New York artists at the Higashi Hiroshima Museum. Recipient of an M.F.A. from Queens College, she has been an educator at the Pratt Institute, Parsons School of Design, Chautauqua Institute and other art schools, and artist-in-residence at Yaddo and St. Margaret’s Bay. “My work is a search for relationships of color and form that feel true,” Franks said. “My drawings explore the space between me and what I am observing, erasing and redefining to discover the image. In my paintings and collages, I may begin with a perceived motif but, as I find my way with color, I go where the work leads me.”
  • Monday, Nov. 20:  Painter Gideon Bok, who earned his M.F.A. from Yale University, has shown his works in 18 solo exhibitions and more than 50 group exhibitions at galleries and museums in Boston, New York, his native Maine and across the United States. Writing in the online arts publication Hyperallergic, critic John Yau observed that Bok creates “several paintings at once, working within a predetermined timeframe to keep the ambient light in the painting consistent.” He described a recent series of Bok paintings as explorations of “the convoluted union between ordinariness and strangeness that is synonymous with daily living,” while other recent works “use his cluttered studio space as the starting point for investigations into perception, perspective and time.” Bok has taught at Hampshire College, Boston University and more than a dozen other institutions from Bowdoin and Marlboro colleges to the University of Maine and the University of Oklahoma. His works are held in major collections including the Boston Athenaeum, the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York, the Farnsworth Art Museum in Maine, and the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art in Wisconsin. He is a past Guggenheim Fellow and recipient of the American Academy’s Hassam, Speicher, Betts and Symons Fund Purchase Award.

For more information, contact the WCSU Department of Art at (203) 837-8403.


Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.