A Life on Paper: The Drawings And Lithographs of John Thomas by Olive Jensen Theisen

By Olive Jensen Theisen

John Thomas Biggers (1924-2001) was once an incredible African American artist who encouraged numerous others via his educating, work of art, work, and drawings. After receiving traditional paintings education at Hampton Institute and Pennsylvania nation, he had his own and creative step forward in 1957 while he spent six months within the newly self sufficient kingdom of Ghana. From this time ahead, he built-in African summary components together with his rural Southern pictures to create a private iconography. His new procedure made him recognized, as his own discovery of African background slot in good with the turning out to be U.S. civil rights circulation. he's top recognized for his work of art at Hampton collage, Winston-Salem collage, and Texas Southern, however the drawings and lithographs that lie at the back of the work of art have acquired scant realization - previously. Theisen interviewed Dr. Biggers over the past 13 years of his lifestyles, and was once welcomed into his studio innumerable occasions. jointly, they chose consultant works for this quantity, a few of that have now not been formerly released for a common viewers. After his demise in 2001, his widow endured to paintings heavily with Theisen, leading to a publication that's intimate and informative for either the student and the scholar.

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Not wanting the congregation to know that he had false teeth, the elder returned later to search for his missing dentures. Finally a young boy came by, hooked a chicken leg on a fishing line and threw it into the water. 25 Of these stories, Biggers remarked: “Those tales have passed away now. Nobody wants to talk about that anymore … but what’s wrong with our folklore? ”26 Dreaming of Africa when he was young, Biggers applied for a UNESCO fellowship in 1955 to make such a trip. The colonial era in Africa was ending, and the United Nations program was interested in having traditional life and culture in Africa recorded.

The dean requested a work of art from Biggers for the opening of the Julius C. Hester House Community Center in Houston. Mrs. Susan McAshan, a significant donor to the center, sent a note to President R. ” 34 Soon after, President Lanier did offer John Biggers the position of initiating an art 30 E ARLY YE ARS AND E DUC ATION , 1924 –1949 department at the new college. And so the newlyweds, John and Hazel Biggers, began their move to hot and steamy Houston, Texas, by way of Alabama State University where he had a temporary summer teaching position during the summer of 1949.

Our eyes are drawn to the infant burrowing into the safety of the mother’s arm. The warmth and tenderness expressed in these two drawings are unequalled in his works on love. 38 B U ILDING IN HOU STON AND TE X A S SOUTHE RN U NIVE RS IT Y, 1949 –1957 Drawing was an innate part of John Biggers, a necessary part of his daily life. “Painting and drawing to me are just as important as eating, making love, or anything. It’s a biological, spiritual thing. ”9 Biggers worked primarily with basic materials such as crayon and pencil.

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