June Ficklen Lecture Series



Brooke Davis Anderson

Edna S. Tuttleman Director of the Museum at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts


Saturday, February 10, 2018 at 5:30 pm

Jenkins Fine Arts Center

Speight Auditorium




To coincide with the exhibition, Jupiter Optimus Maximus, an exhibition of three artists from Winston-Salem that engages the visual arts, the performing arts, and religious belief systems, Anderson will lecture on two murals by North Carolina artist, John Biggers, entitled Origins and Ascensions, produced by the artist for Winston-Salem State University.


John Biggers (1924-2001) was a native of North Carolina. A long-time admirer of Diego Rivera and the WPA mural tradition, Biggers mastered the art of large scale, site specific message murals in North Carolina, Virginia, and Texas. It is his largest projects at Hampton University and Winston-Salem State University that are the culminating artworks of a long-standing career. This talk will delve into the two artworks at Winston-Salem State University (WSSU): Origins and Ascensions, two murals that bring together the primary concerns of Biggers’ goals as an artist: sacred geometry, African history and spirituality, African American history, feminism, folk art, and religion. Anderson will also present the site-specificity of the murals and their intended purpose to convey the mission of a Historically Black College (HBCU). Biggers remains a regionally recognized artist who is slowly gaining capital on the national art scene and an on-going examination into his life philosophy and his artistic practice is warranted. Origins and Ascensions are two of the most monumental and important artworks in the state of North Carolina, but they are not widely known, visited, or appreciated.


Brooke Davis Anderson was director of Diggs Gallery at WSSU from 1992-1999, and lectured on the Biggers Murals nearly every week for seven years. During that time Anderson forged a close friendship with the artist and gained intimate knowledge about the artist’s intentions and goals of the artworks.