Walls That Speak
The Murals of John Thomas Biggers
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: University of North Texas Press
Title Page, Copyright Page
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PREFACE: The Murals of John Thomas Biggers
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The hope of finding a painting by a âfamous artistâ in some gloomy closet sends many a junk store enthusiast digging through piles of canvases in dusty places. One Saturday morning I found myself in a storeroom pushing aside map stands, overhead projectors and other left-over classroom equipment in order to get a look...
PREFACE: Walls That Speak
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The need for a revised edition of The Murals of John Thomas Biggers became apparent even before the first edition had been formally introduced. By that time John Biggers wasnât quite ready to end his mural career. In 1995 he was already at work on a plan for a community mural in Minneapolis, Minnesota, when invited...
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John Biggers spoke truth though his art for sixty years. Despite his death in 2001, his rich complex images continue to delight the eye, puzzle the mind, and capture the imagination. Enigmatic as some of his works are, they still burst with life and vigor. His influence upon generations of art students, especially young...
CHAPTER 1. EARLY YEARS: 1924â1949
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John Thomas Biggers was born on April 13, 1924, the youngest of the seven children of Paul and Cora Biggers. The family lived in the Negro area of Gastonia, North Carolina, a mill town in the heart of the segregated South, where Paul Biggers worked as a teacher, preacher, cobbler, blacksmith, and farmer...
CHAPTER 2. TRANSITION: 1949â1957
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John Biggers returned to his roots in the South in 1949, when he agreed to come to Houston from Pennsylvania State University to establish an art department at Texas State College for Negroes. (The college became Texas Southern University in 1951.) Dr. R. OâHara Lanier, the president of Texas Southern, was a Hampton...
CHAPTER 3. BRIDGING PAST AND PRESENT: AFRICA AND AFTER, 1957â1974
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In July of 1957, John Biggers left America with his wife, Hazel, for six months of study in West Africa, funded by a UNESCO grant. The artist kept a careful record of his trip in words, drawings, and photographs, which he later incorporated into a book, Ananse: The Web of Life in Africa, first published in 1962....
CHAPTER 4. INFLUENCES: AFRICAN ART AND MYTHOLOGY, 1957â2001
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John Biggersâs trip to Africa transformed his art in unimaginable ways. Many knew of Biggersâs earlier work and had categorized him as a regional painter who painted images of suffering people. As it turns out, that was only half the story. In this chapter we will talk about some factors that influenced him on his pioneering...
CHAPTER 5. INTEGRATING PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE: 1974â1983
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During a nearly decade-long hiatus from mural painting, John Biggers continued to draw, paint, teach, and build the art department at Texas Southern University. Most significantly, he continued his artistic struggle to integrate African, European, and Regionalist influences into his own...
CHAPTER 6. MATURE YEARS: 1983â1993
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After his early retirement from Texas Southern University in 1983, John Biggersâs production was astounding. In addition to his painting and drawings, he participated in a number of solo and group exhibitions and traveled to Europe, South America, and Africa. In the years between 1987 and 1992, he completed two...
CHAPTER 7. THE LAST YEARS: 1994â2001
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The years 1994 to 1997 were exciting but tiring ones for John and Hazel Biggers. Upon completion of the murals at Hampton University and Winston- Salem State University, Biggers experienced some serious health problems caused by diabetes and exhaustion. They planned to rest for a good long time...
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Each mural that John Biggers completed provided him an opportunity to further develop his story of the African American in the context of the universe. Themes of the pre-Africa, pre-1960 murals dealt with the life and history of ordinary and extraordinary persons of the segregated world into which John Biggers was born...
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There are so many individuals to whom I owe a debt of gratitude for contributions in the production of this book. Had it not been for the initial strong encouragement of Dr. D. Jack Davis, Professor of Art and Director of the North Texas Institute for Educators in the Visual Arts, and the perceptive conversations...
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JOHN BIGGERS'S PERSONAL SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY
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Page Count: 152
Illustrations: 47 color and 38 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2010