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William Elliott Stiles Jr. (J.D. '06) has donated his Concept Collection to the University of Georgia School of Law.
The artist, a 2006 cum laude graduate of the law school, began painting while in high school and said this creative activity was a much needed stress reliever during his time as a law student. In fact, while studying in Athens, he created and donated a piece titled “The Common Law” to the school. This painting reflects relevant case law, theories, ideas and history examined during the first semester of legal studies.
The images in the Concept Collection are “firmly rooted in the practice of law with excerpts of U.S. Supreme Court opinions in the background.” Stiles began this body of work after experiencing a significant health scare in 2015. While recovering, law school classmates and former professors encouraged him to return to this creative outlet. Stiles said his law school family “helped to restore his confidence” and rediscover this stress reliever.
Stiles, who specializes in commercial vehicle litigation, currently practices with Bey & Associates in Atlanta. He is married to Amber Barrow Stiles, also a 2006 graduate of the School of Law.
Statement of the Artist
In the tradition of legal studies and a common approach of daily preparation of law students, the following is a brief of the Concept Collection paintings now on display at the University of Georgia School of Law (“UGA Law”). So not to 1) undermine the artistic principle that Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder or 2) limit the imagination and thoughts of anyone viewing the painting, these descriptions are limited to the key elements of each painting.
In closing, I can’t express enough my gratitude for this honor. THANK YOU - Stiles
As its title suggest, the signature piece of this collection attempts to provide a historical accounting of the University of Georgia School of Law. A complete accounting of this topic would require far more painting and time. May it please the Court, a Brief History of UGA Law:
Justitia – The law school moto stands firm as the center piece of this work. The statue of Justitia itself, stands on a Pilar which pays tribute to UGA Law cornerstones from the Leadership Circles, to Professor Appel and Professor Blount.
Legal Mathematics – In the background of Justitia are a brief set of Greater Than/Less Than equations which speak to concepts both old and new:
being a Light is > Likes
the Pen is > the Sword
a Living < a Life
Truth > Lies
Life > $$$
Love > Hate
The Justice League – A brief accounting of UGA Law graduates who are now Judges from Justice Benham and Justice Melton, to Judge Story and the most recent appointees of Sheridan, Carter, and Reeves.
The Law Oak – Which is examined and expressed in its own individual painting.
Section T – In honor of Professor Sentel’s last year as the Professor of Torts. This expression also captures a key element of Legal Research & Writing.
DGD – Or Damn Good Dawg to acknowledge our graduate and trial lawyer Sonny Seiler of Savannah, Ga, who owns the line of “Uga” canines.
Love – Simply put, this is more than a love for UGA Football. But for, meeting within the walls of Hirsch Hall, numerous friendships and relationships would not have been forged and countless new lives not created.
PROFs – This is yet another brief accounting of the remarkable minds whom provide the educational foundation at Georgia Law. The signature elements here are our very own Dean Rutledge whose mind is “like a flower in bloom” and the notation of Kellie’s Angels and a simple snapshot of the mounting Advocacy awards earned under her leadership.
The Arch and the pillars of Wisdom, Justice and Moderation.
Hills & Valleys – At the base of this painting is a simple line of varying highs and lows. This is a reflection of both law school and life itself. To be sure, the friendships and relationships you CAN develop at UGA law will be strong and essential in overcoming any challenge you face in life. It is my sincere hope that said opportunity is not missed.
The Law Oak
This is the actual oak tree outside Hirsch Hall.
This piece was inspired by a UGA Law letter I received with a picture of the oak and the motto: “Prepare, Connect, Lead”.
The oak itself symbolizes our legal studies rooted both in the grounds of North Campus and the history and principle of the University of Georgia School of Law.
The red leaves of the Law Oak are the fruit of the tree, bearing the titles and positions of UGA Law graduates from partner to professor.
American Presidents by far is my most simplistic painting, but without question it has presented as my most popular creation. And given its simplicity, it is the only painting for which I have obtained formal copyright protections. Despite its simple form, its meaning is often missed by adults, yet quickly identified by children, as they count the forty-four (44) markers
I have sold over 150 original reproductions of this painting. Each reproduction, this one included, qualifies as a duplicate original as each is hand painted and bears different news paper articles. The one before you is the sole American Presidents duplicate original with the election day newspaper of the Athens Banner Herald. For a more detailed expression of this painting’s significance to me personally, please see the attached email, I sent to President Obama during his last weeks in office.
Special Field Orders No. 15
The landscape of the Atlantic coastline from Jacksonville, FL to Charleston, South Carolina.
The landscape itself is set forth by 40 squares, each representative of an acre of land.
Special Field Orders, No. 15 (SFO 15) were the orders issued by the Union Army General, William T. Sherman on January 16, 1865. SFO confiscated approximately 400,000 acres of land along the Atlantic coast of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida to be divided into parcels of not more than 40 acres, and given to an identified 18,000 former slaves and their families.
Modern recitals and understanding of “40 Acres and a Mule” are inconsistent with SFO 15 in terms of both scope of land and application. It was limited to this exact track of land and only those slaves identified by General Sherman.
SFO was revoked by President Johnson and never put into place.
On a very personal note, my Grandfather (who passed for white) purchased over 25 acres of marsh front property in Savannah, GA back in 1930. Given the concerns of Malaria at the time, water front property had very limited value. He purchased this land, which was within the same track identified in SFO 15 for $4,200.00. Today the land has a value over 350 times the original purchase price.
This painting is premised on the Malcolm Gladwell book, Outliers: The Story of Success, and the concept that it takes 10,000 hours conducting an activity to become an expert.
The circles or markers in the painting represent individuals.
The grouping at the bottom of the painting is the large baseline collection of individuals.
Those markers at the top of the painting, represent Outliers.
To be sure, there are many Outliers teaching us and amongst us. Several of these individuals are notated by their initials on outlying markers.
An artistic reproduction of a Poll Tax Receipt.
In the background is a copy of an actual poll tax receipt from 1949.
The citation, 42 USC 1973 is to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Loving vs. Virginia
The title of this painting alone signifies its meaning and importance. Loving vs. Virginia, the landmark 1967 civil rights decision striking down all state laws banning interracial marriage.
Given the underlying facts of this case, what better way to present it, other than a BLACK and WHITE family tree.
The Golden Rule Argument
The Golden Rule is to “do onto others as you would have them do unto you”. Matthew 7:12
This is a common principle taught to children in all communities across the world.
This rule is symbolized by the plant with golden leaves.
Despite this teaching, the Golden Rule is expressly disfavored in trial practice.
“Any argument regardless of nomenclature, which importunes the jury to place itself in the position of the victim must be carefully scrutinized”. McClain v. State, 267 Ga. 378 (1996).
While many lawyers disagree with this rule, it is the LAW.
Nevertheless, there are certain facts in any case, when presented properly, will cause jurors to innately place themselves in the shoes of the victim. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace… Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
Plessy vs. Ferguson
The concept I attempt to highlight in this painting, is the doctrine of “Separate but Equal”.
Therefore, this painting is presented on two (2) separate canvases bearing the name of the subject 1896 Supreme Court decision.
While the separate canvases themselves are presented in the same colors and styles, there are several differences in regards to substantive materials used in creating this piece including: 1) time, 2) amount of paint, 3) photographs, and 4) mixed media material.
The University of Georgia was founded on January 27, 1785.
The Arch (and its pillars of Wisdom, Justice & Moderation) which represents both the past and future is the foundation of the piece.
The Scales of Justice are symbolic of UGA Law which was founded in 1859.
The nexus between the foundational Arch and UGA Law are their respective principles:
Moderation and Prepare – a preparation to be moderate
Justice and Connect – a connection to truth and justice