Marker Details

Biggers, John Thomas

3100 Cleburne

Houston , 77004

Notes: Class of 2012, 12HR04; marker received c08-14-2013; marker installed & dedicated on 09-19-2014, at a temporary location on Texas Southern University campus in front of the Barbara Jordan - Mickey Leland Public Affairs Building; per James Ford email 12/1/2015 marker now in its permanent location
Directions: The marker is in front of the Art Department buidling on the campus of Texas Southern University

Key Time Period: 1946 - Present

Corretions/New Research:

No data available

Marker Text: (April 13, 1924 - January 25, 2001) John Thomas Biggers was born to Paul and Cora Biggers in Gastonia, North Carolina. His artistic creativity emerged at a young age when he and his brother Joe crawled under their home and used clay to model the entire town of Gastonia. In 1941, Biggers enrolled at Hampton Institute (later Hampton University) in Virginia, intending to become a heating engineer. Instead he came under the artistic instruction of Viktor Lowenfeld, an Austrian Jew, and Biggers changed his major to Art. His education was interrupted by service in the Navy, 1943-1945. The next year, he followed his teacher and mentor, Lowenfeld, to Pennsylvania State University, where Biggers earned his Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctorate degrees.

In 1949, Biggers and his wife, Hazel Hales Biggers, moved to Houston when he became head of a new art department at Texas State University for Negroes (now Texas Southern University). Biggers nurtured his students’ artistic talents and required them to create murals on the walls of Hannah Hall. In 1957, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) gave him a grant to study and travel in Africa, an award that inspired future artistic works such as his renowned web of life mural. Throughout his career, Biggers won numerous awards for his own art, which portrayed “the spirit and style of the negro people.” However, Jim Crow laws excluding African Americans from many institutions sometimes kept Biggers from receiving his own accolades. Ultimately, the artist was the subject of a major national retrospective and his art is included in major museum collections. Although Biggers passed away in 2001, his legacy lives on through his art and his students’ murals. (2012)

Marker is property of the State of Texas
Marker Type: Marker with Post
Historical Org: Texas Historical Commission (THC)

Key Map Information: 533 C

GPS Coordinates:

Precinct No: 1

Marker No: 17213