William Stoehr is a contemporary artist based in Colorado, USA. He believes the essence of art is the exploration of the fundamental issues of our time. He explores intolerance, discrimination, addiction, and violence with their victims, witnesses and survivors.
His large portraits start with an ambiguous expression, shared gaze and uncertain context calculated to provoke you into creating the narrative. He suggests certain features and realistically detail others. He uses a limited palette of acrylic paint along with metallic and iridescent colours that produce changing patterns with changes in lighting and view angle.
Working freely, he drips, brushes, pours, scrubs and scrapes paint while applying a variety of lines, dots and other adjustments. He often paints multi-views or facial features slightly out of alignment. He also frequently paints vaguely different expressions for each side of the face. These variations might make the images appear more real as time, half-remembered memories, and prior experiences affect the viewer's perception.
Stoehr commented on his practice as follows:
"What is the larger conversation; the wider dialogue that I want to be part of? How can I affect and activate viewers? For me, this painted dialogue is one of the characteristics that define a successful work of art. Many of my followers are from war-torn areas like Syria and Iraq. They write to me. One day a woman from a Syrian refugee camp wrote to tell me that she knew I understood her and that she wanted to die. The next morning, she looked at the same painting and saw hope in the woman’s eyes. She said she knew then that she too could have hope. She told me that I saved her life. This is why I paint."
In 1964, when he was 16 years old, William thought he wanted to be an artist. Willem de Kooning was his art hero. Yet, he became an engineer instead. 40 years later in 2004, he retired from his latest job and became a self-taught, full-time artist at the age of 56.
Today his work is exhibited at universities, art centres, museums, and galleries. He is a frequent speaker and lecturer and his work has been featured and reviewed in local, national and international media.
Prior to becoming a full-time artist, he was the President of the National Geographic Maps - responsible for the National Geographic Society's worldwide mapping operations.