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John Biggers, an internationally acclaimed painter, sculptor, and founder of TSU’s Art program, began his study of art at Hampton Institute (now Hampton University) in Hampton, Virginia. Biggers later relocated to Houston and ultimately served on the TSU faculty for more than 30 years.
Biggers’ work draws upon the study of the art, religion, and mysteries of Africa, and the experiences of African Americans in the rural South to illustrate and celebrate the richness of diversity and the commonality of all human experience. An artist with great versatility as a painter, sculptor, graphic artist, printmaker, muralist, and educator, Biggers’ work is displayed in museums and private collections in the U.S. and Europe.
In 1957, Biggers received a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) fellowship that enabled him to become one of the first African American artists to visit Africa. His art was profoundly influenced by his direct contact with the wonder of the continent and its people. Biggers retired from teaching in 1983 and devoted himself exclusively to his art. Although he has been widely considered one of the finest painters of his generation, Biggers was known for his humility. “I’m not a big-city artist telling a big city story,” he said, “I’m a southern man telling a story about home.”