Why Art at HBCUS?

Many Historically Black Colleges and Universities have amassed a rich collection of African American art, preserving this heritage to offer students, faculty and art enthusiasts a better understanding of these artists’ contributions to this country’s history.

During the 19th and 20th Century, many of the great African American artists worked at HBCUs because they could not be displayed in mainstream America during that time.

The Tom Joyner Foundation collection of artists is another dimension of connecting and preserving the legacy of HBCUs into the 21st Century. These valuable treasures also cross all education disciplines to show art as a connection to science, math, engineering, languages, history, and business.

One of Hampton University’s alumnus, Dr. John T. Biggers, later headed the department of art at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas. Fisk University houses the Carl Van Vechten Gallery and the Aaron Douglas Gallery.

Tuskegee University’s Carver Museum displays the works of Dr. George Washington Carver and other great artists such as: Famed photographer P.H. Polk who was the official photographer for the university, the works of Henry O. Tanner, sculptures of Edmonia Lewis, and the sculptures and pottery of Dr. Isaac Hathaway and Yuma Hathaway.

Talladega College owns the famed Hale Woodruff, Amistad Murals painted in 1938, now a great value in the art world. At Dillard University, Elizabeth Catlett started its art department after she graduated from Howard University. North Carolina Central University proudly salutes artist Ernie Barnes as an alumnus. Spelman College helped mold Varnette Honeywood into her greatness and  Ted Ellis and Renarda Boddier gained their art development from Dillard University.

The Tom Joyner Fantastic Voyage makes a strong effort to continue and expand the legacy of art at HBCU’s by offering gallery talks and a specific gallery of African American artists.

HBCUs have gone full circle with art by now incorporating the focus into its curriculums as STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math).

Click here for details on and to apply for the 2017 Fine Arts Scholarship program.



Cherie S. White
Cherie S. White
Cherie S. White is Director of Digital Strategy for the Tom Joyner Foundation, a writer and editor.

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