John Thomas Biggers

John Thomas Biggers

(1924–2001) was an African American muralist who came to prominence after the Harlem Renaissance and toward the end of World War II. Biggers was born in Gastonia, North Carolina and attended the Lincoln Academy, the Hampton Institute (now Hampton University), and then Pennsylvania State University from which he earned a doctorate in 1954. From 1954-1955, he was in his hometown, working on the many paintings that are now very well distinguished.

His works can be found at Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia, primarily in the campus library.

In Houston, Texas, Biggers founded the art department at Houston’s Texas State University for Negroes (now Texas Southern University) in 1949. Biggers received a fellowship in 1957 from UNESCO, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, allowing him to become one of the first African American artists to visit Africa.

Biggers studied under Viktor Lowenfeld at Hampton Institute, who significantly influenced Biggers in his artistic development. Biggers later created works which reflected his perspective of the anguish that people have suffered merely because of their race or religious beliefs.


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