Join the Community Conversation About John Biggers
By Tonya Jameson
The Mint Museum isn’t letting John Biggers’ exhibit “Wheels in Wheels” close quietly. Instead, the museum is partnering with Pride Magazine to present CommUNITY Conversation: “DECODING: Symbols, Icons, Mysteries & Mischief in the Art of John Thomas Biggers.”
The free event will be 6:30–8 p.m., Oct. 25, at the Mint Museum Uptown.
The title, “John Biggers: Wheels in Wheels,” refers to the deep, meaningful subjects and symbols that recur in Biggers’ work throughout his long career. The exhibit brings together more than a dozen major examples of his art in a variety of media.
A talk about Gastonia native son artist-educator Biggers will explore the accomplished painter, printmaker, muralist, sculptor, storyteller, griot and renowned American artist through the eyes of B.E. Noel, a Charlotte-based art consultant and educator, fine art dealer, owner of Noel Art Liaison, Inc. and former Mint Museum trustee. She will share her professional insights and personal anecdotes on the artist.
“I was captivated by the brilliance, mystery, beauty and human history in the art of John Thomas Biggers,” Noel said. “While many artists create works of fantasy, John Biggers depicted ‘the fantastic’ by commemorating ordinary moments and mundane gestures through his mesmerizing, cinematic paintings and murals. John’s iconic symbol of ‘ananse ’(an African folklore character often depicted as a spider), the spider and its web, metaphorically weaves a human connection across continents, cultures and generations.”
After Noel’s talk, Jon Stuhlman, senior curator of American, Modern and Contemporary Art at the Mint, will lead a tour of the installation. Visitors will view a small display of works-on-easel by local visual artists responding to “Wheels in Wheels.”
Stuhlman curated the installation to acknowledge the significant contributions of this American artist.
“John Biggers was one of the most important American artists of the last century,” he said. “It has been a pleasure to share it (the exhibit) with our visitors.”
Pride publisher Dee Dixon agreed.
“The brilliance and beauty of the works of John Biggers are captivating beyond words! I love his art and believe every African American in the entire Charlotte region should partake of the contributions he has made, not only to our race, but to the entire world,” said Dixon.
This is the first time the Mint has shown Biggers’ work. Local collectors, such as Nancy Webber, Jim Biggers and Quincy and Christy Lee, lent pieces from their personal collections for this exhibit. It features 12 paintings, drawings and prints, as well as a rare example of Biggers’ sculpture. Through the use of a rich symbolic language and beautiful craftsmanship, Biggers found connections among personal, familial and regional histories, traditions and symbols, which he wove together to articulate broader cultural and historical concerns. Themes that remain central to his work throughout his career are prevalent in the works in the exhibition, most notably the importance of women and family and the power of the human spirit to triumph over adversity.
“Pride remains grateful to the Mint Museum for continuing to bring such relevant programming to our city, and we are especially pleased to partner with them on showcasing one of the most important Black artists of all time,” Dixon said.
This spotlight show was organized by the Mint Museum and will remain on view into November 2017.