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The Tools

 December 16, 2012 through May 12, 2013


The exhibition Stephen Althouse - Die Waerkzeichen (Pennsylvania German: The Tools) represents selected photographic works created by the artist during the past eight years. Althouse’s powerful imagery may be experienced on many levels; from the purely visual to the profoundly conceptual, from the intellectual to the emotional and spiritual. On the surface, his large-scale works are exquisitely printed and carefully organized minimalist compositions of ordinary tools and artifacts bursting with texture and minute detail. Looking deeper we find that Althouse depicts objects and implements that seem to reference and blend aspects of human activity across time, his rural Pennsylvania upbringing, Quaker influences, and his present life in a predominantly Amish community. In many of his images Althouse incorporates pieces of white cloth, elements in contrast to his other subjects of dark aged metal, wood, and leather, and which take his works to another level eliciting a sense of reverence and spirituality.

As one delves into the life of the artist, it becomes apparent that his images are strongly interconnected with his personal life and varied past and present experiences, and make unique correlations with his questions and views about humanity. As indicators suggesting the profundity of Althouse’s art, undecipherable words and phrases are subtly incorporated into some of his pieces, which are enigmatic clues of his thoughts and ideas at the time. His phrases are often encrypted in Braille, and in languages such as Latin, medieval German, Pennsylvania Dutch, Walloon, and Zapotec that are not utilized by mainstream societies yet somehow have personal significance to the artist. Throughout his works, in his own visual language of personal symbols and metaphors, Althouse renders his views of humankind and his own life as a gradient melding of positive and negative attributes and experiences. The results are inimitable and unforgettable images charged with mystery and spirituality, which may serve as catalysts for varied interpretations by the viewers of his artwork.

Stephen Althouse was raised in rural Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and later spent considerable time travelling and living abroad. He holds a lifetime rank of Distinguished Professor of Fine Art at Barry University in Miami, Florida and also regularly taught courses in France, England, Spain, and Ecuador. He has now relocated back to Pennsylvania and works creatively in Centre County.


The Allentown Art Museum, Allentown, Pennsylvania
Dr. Diane Fischer, Chief Curator


All rights reserved. © Stephen Althouse