Born in 1924 in then-segregated Gastonia, North Carolina, John Biggers found his life's calling when he enrolled in instructor Viktor Lowenfeld's freshman art class at Hampton Institute - later Hampton University - in 1941. Lowenfeld, an Austrian Jew who had fled Nazi persecution, encouraged his young African American students to explore their cultural identity through art. Biggers flourished under Lowenfeld's tutelage and went on to earn a doctorate in art from Pennsylvania State University.
In 1949, Biggers moved to Houston to chair the nascent art department at Texas Southern University. Despite becoming well known for his narrative murals and outstanding draftmanship, he continued to feel the sting of segregation in the South. His epiphany came in 1957, when he won a UNESCO fellowship and became one of the first African American artists to travel to Africa. His time there, which Biggers described as "a positive shock" and "the most significant of my life's experiences" led to the publication of his award-winning illustrated book Ananse: The Web of Life in Africa (Austin University Press, 1962).
Whether sketching an African woman dancing or painting one of his twenty-seven murals, Biggers dedicated his art to "showing the spirit of man struggling above the mundane, above the material, above suffering." John Biggers died in 2001, leaving behind a body of work that, as Maya Angelou stated, "leads us through his expressions into the discovery of ourselves at out most intimate level." Ten 5 x 7" full-color blank note cards (5 each of 2 designs) and ten white envelopes. ISBN:0-7649-3724-3. By John Biggers.