Artist Bio & Statement


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Tom Stanley is a visual artist living in Rock Hill, South Carolina. After earning an MA in Applied Art History and an MFA in Painting from the University of South Carolina in 1980, he served on the faculties of Arkansas College (now Lyon College) in Batesville, Arkansas and Barry University in Miami, Florida.  In 1985 he returned to the Carolina’s to direct the Waterworks Visual Arts Center in Salisbury.  In 1990 he became the first director of Rock Hill's Winthrop University Galleries. From 2007 to 2017 he served as chair of Winthrop’s Department of Fine Arts.  

An abiding curatorial interest in the work of self-taught artists, his first exhibition Worth Keeping: Found Artists of the Carolinas (1980) opened at the Columbia Museum of Art. He revisited the exhibition with Still Worth Keeping in 1997 at the South Carolina State Museum.  Currently he is researching and cataloging the work of self-taught South Carolina artist Gene Merritt (1936-2015) who exhibited at the Collection de l’Art Brut in 1998 and has received international attention for his methodical yet intuitive drawing.

As an artist, Stanley typically works in series with limitations of size, color and imagery.  He uses recurring shapes such as triangles and figurative elements of houses and boats. Typical media are acrylic on canvas and on paper. Although using common graphic strategies like mechanical drawing, silhouette, and sgraffito, his primary process is about making something he has never seen before. The work is a conversation between hands and eyes. He draws with paint rather than paints with paint.  

Stanley’s creative work has been exhibited at Hodges Taylor Consultancy, Charlotte; The George Gallery, Charleston; Hampton III Gallery, Greenville; if ART, Columbia; Fine Arts Center, Greenville; Artspace, Raleigh; 701 Center for Contemporary Art, Columbia; Charlotte’s Gallery at Carillon; and SECCA, Winston-Salem.  His 2004 Floating series was exhibited at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. He has exhibited internationally at gallery twenty-four, Berlin; La Galerie du Marché, Lausanne; Musée de la Halle Saint Pierre, Paris; and the University of Porto’s Casa-Museu Abel Salazar, Portugal.  His 2017 exhibition Tom Stanley: Scratching the Surface was featured at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art during Spoleto in Charleston, S.C.

Since 2007 he has worked on public art projects including the design elements for the CATS light rail Tom Hunter Station in Charlotte.  He is a recipient of Winthrop University’s Medal of Honor in the Arts, and the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Award.  This past spring 2018 he completed a six-week residency as visiting artist at the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, and worked with Casa-Museu Abel Salazar, University of Porto in Portugal, on an installation for their chapel, Layers: On-Site Installation.  He is currently in an 8-month residency at the McColl Center for Art + Innovation where he also serves as a visiting curator.

For complete CV click here.