Monday, January 7, 2008

Dr. John Biggers

Dr. John Biggers (1924 – 2001)
Born: Gastonia, North Carolina
Education: Hampton University, Hampton, VA and Pennsylvania State University, University Park
Degree: Ph.D. Fine Arts
The late Dr. John T. Biggers first discovered his artistic talents when he was a small child. Every year, he and his brothers and sisters would recreate the town of Gastonia, NC out of the clay under their house, complete with streets and buildings, wagons, and cars, mules and horses, houses with lawns of moss, streams of real water, and Gastonia’s two seven-story skyscrapers.
Biggers was an artist with great versatility as a painter, sculptor, graphic artist, printmaker, muralist, and educator. His paintings and drawings hang in museums and private collections in the U.S. and Europe. Many of his works are widely considered to be the finest painted by any artist of his generation. He created works that draw upon the study of the arts, religion, the mysteries of Egypt and other African nations, and the experiences of African-Americans in the rural South to illustrate and celebrate the richness of diversity and the commonality of all human experience. He often was quoted in saying, "I'm not a big-city artist telling a big-city story; I'm a southern man telling a story about home."
His interest in African culture is reflected in the themes of his work.

James Converse Biggers


Born: Gastonia, NC
Education: Appalachian State University.
Degree: MA, Art Education

Mr. Biggers has developed a career as a respected educator and visual artist. He works in a variety of media, with special emphasis on painting, drawing, and monoprints. Influenced by his uncle, artist John Biggers, he has developed his own personal style in his work. Although his work often reflects his African heritage, his recent creations have incorporated themes derived from his interests in mythology and geometric patterns.

In 1977, he received a Fulbright-Hayes Grant to tour Japan as part of the North Carolina Art Teachers’ Japan Seminar at Duke University. He has worked closely with the Kennedy Center (Washington, D.C.) on several projects and has held teaching positions in public schools, colleges and a museum within the state of North Carolina. His works have been exhibited across the State. He has collaborated on several projects with his uncle, John T. Biggers, on several murals, including two 30’ tall murals in the O’Kelly Library at Winston-Salem State University, “Origins” and “Ascension.” In 1992, he again joined his uncle in the design and execution of the Hampton University Murals - Tree House and House of the Turtle - installed at the William R. and Norma B. Harvey Library at Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia.

In 1993 - 1994, James created and installed “North Carolina Belongs To Children”, a mural commissioned for the North Carolina Artworks for State Buildings Program in the North Carolina Legislative Building in Raleigh.

In 1994 – 1995, he created the piece Celebration at the Charlotte Convention Center for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Arts and Science Council. Also, he presented a one-man show, “Mythology – I Know The Way”, at the Cleveland Community College in Shelby, NC. Biggers’ work has recently been featured at a number of regional museums and art centers, including facilities in Fayetteville, Winston-Salem, and Greensboro, NC.

Mr. Biggers is an adjunct instructor at Gaston College and Cleveland Community College. He resides in Gastonia, NC with his wife Ina, two sons and four grandchildren.

Phone: 704.864-2446; E-Mail:

Sandra Biggers Byers


Born: Gastonia, NC
Education: Frank L. Ashley High School

Ms. Biggers Byers is a self taught artist. She was introduced to watercolor by her late uncle Dr. John T. Biggers in 1998. Creations from her art includes painting in watercolor, oils, and acrylics and hand painted bookmarkers and cards. Some of the competitions and exhibits that she has participated in include: United Negro College Fund Auction for Maya Angelou, Women Who Lead Luncheon, Charlotte, NC; The Artist Friend Gallery, Winston-Salem, NC; I Am Woman Show, Kings Mountain, NC; and Exhibitions at the Gaston County Library, Gastonia, NC.

She lives in her hometown of Gastonia and has three adult daughters, three grandsons and one granddaughter

Phone: 704.854.3434

T' Afo Feimster

Sculpture , Drawing and Painting
Statesville, NC
Education: North Carolina Central University, Durham, NC
Degree: BA, Business Administration and Accounting

Mr. Feimster is a self-taught artist. His artistic talents include painting, sculpting, wood crafting, acting, and writing.

Over the last 30 years, his painting and sculpture have been displayed in shows and galleries throughout the Northeast and Southeast region of the United States and the Caribbean. He has been featured in many local and regional magazines, newspapers and on numerous television programs. He has been the featured opening artist for several nationally and internationally known artists such as the late artist Selma Burke. Over the years he has received awards, recognition, and honorable mentions not only for his artistic disciplines but his community involvement with the arts. His spiritual nature, driven by a deep and sensitive desire to create, has inspired and motivated him to be the diverse professional artist that he is today.

He is a full time artist and cultural educator, and the owner, and director of T’Afo Arts, and Co-Founder and Executive Director of A.D.E.P.T. Artists Inc., a 501 c (#) non-profit organization whose mission is to assist in the development of emerging artists. He lives in Charlotte, NC.

Phone: 704-737-8097; Website:; E-Mail:; Mail to: PO Box 481772, Charlotte, NC 28269

Donald L. Michael, Jr.

Born: Des Moines, IA
Education: Drake University, Des Moines, IA and University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI
Degrees: B.F.A. Printmaking and M.F.A., Graphics, NC Teaching Certificate

At a very young age, Mr. Michael discovered he had a talent for drawing and painting. He practiced on a daily basis especially drawing with graphite, wolf's crayon, and ink from rapidographs pens given to him as a gift by his sister. His talent was recognized and he was awarded scholarships for study at art centers and at one of the most prestigious printmaking programs in the country at the University of Wisconsin at Madison under the instruction of professors William Weegee, Warrington Colescott, Raymond Gloeckler, Jack Damer, and Ted Pope.

Don is an artist that enjoys working with all art mediums, including photography. However, his three favorite forms are computer graphics, printmaking, particularly the old African tradition of relief printing, and painting.

Throughout his career his work has had several periods of expressions, realistic and symbolic abstractionist. The symbolism used in his works is considered humorous, foreboding, and controversial and the basic icon used in the works is a combination rectangle and circle and shapes found in nature and unified systems. The humor comes from the personification of the 'cats' or shapes and their dramatic portrayal of human situations. Many of the themes are taken from history, e.g., Bopaul Incident, Jonestown, discovery of the Black Madonna in Poland, and war between men. Eventually, this series became 'Catheaven' inspired by the simplification of cats in motion.

In addition to being an artist, he is a sought after professional in creating computer workshop laboratories and creating graphic design programs. He is a presenter at technology conferences demonstrating how to create a desktop publishing system using open source software. Don has completed the development of a new Digital Design Certification and two-year Digital Arts Associate degree program at York Technical College, Rock Hill, SC. Currently, he has returned to work at the Art Institute of Charlotte as a full-time graphic design instructor. Don is also working with clients to develop web sites, of which he has donated his time to John Biggers and Friends to develop this blog.

He resides in Gastonia, NC.

Phone: 704.866.8112 or E-Mail:

Dr. James E. Neal


Born: Belmont, NC
Education: North Carolina Central University, Durham, NC and Meharry Medical College, Kansas City, MO.
Degree: BS, Chemistry and Biology, and MD in Medicine

Mr. James Neal began painting when he was 5-years old with watercolors. When he served his country as a Major in the Army Medical Corps at Fort Knox Kentucky, this was one of the most prolific periods in developing his painting technique. He was honored by his peers with a “one artist” exhibit where the entire facility was devoted to his work. He is a painter that uses oil on canvas the method of the old masters, portraits and people that tell a story.

He resides in Gastonia, NC with his wife, Annie and daughter Kendra. His son Jared lives in North Hollywood, California.


Nellie Ashford Rawls

Folk Art

Born: Charlotte, NC

Education: Carver Junior College and North Carolina Central University, Durham, NC, and Shaw University, Raleigh, NC

Degree: B.S, Psychology and Social Science

Ms. Ashford Rawls is a self-taught folk artist that uses the stories in her childhood to create hundreds of art collages on board, paper and canvas. She uses acrylic paints of bright colors along with found objects of fabric, sand, wood filings, and other natural things to create her paintings. “I began to paint because of my third oldest grandson. I paint about people, places and things that don’t matter to anyone anymore. Yes, I am a folk artist and the advantage is that I tell people I am allowed to break the rules that the trained artist would not dare do.” is often quoted by Ashford.

Her works can be located in a variety of places in the US, Canada and Swaziland, Africa.

In North Carolina you can find her works of art in Charlotte galleries Picture Perfect Framing, Studio 7, and Coffey & Thompson Gallery, Unity Place in St. Stephens AME Zion Church, Gastonia, The Foster’s Art and Frame Gallery, Huntersville, Red Piano Gallery Too, St. Helena’s Island, and La Benson’s Art Gallery, Beauford, SC.

Works of her art have been commissioned by a number of organizations in Charlotte, NC. She also has been a guest of friends of the arts in News Orleans, Louisiana. Most recently, the Afro American Cultural Center in Charlotte, NC presented her with the Artist Achievement Award. She resides in a rural area in Charlotte where she paints in her home.

Phone:704.398.2513 or E-Mail: . Limited addition artist proofs and prints of her work are available for purchase.

Carroll Saunders


Born: Gastonia, NC
Education: Johnson C. Smith University, Charlotte, NC and University of North Carolina-Charlotte, NC
Degrees: BA, Social Science and Psychology and M.Ed, Education

Mr. Carroll Saunders is a self-taught painter in oils and acrylics. His paintings show a fondness for bold, bright colors and the subject matter often reflects his surroundings and environment. He is particularly fond of his works that reflect the neighborhood where he grew up.

Saunders has exhibited art locally in Gaston County in the Annual Spring Shows sponsored by the Gaston County Art Guild, where he has received numerous awards. He has held one-man shows at the Gaston County Museum of Art and History; Davidson College Art Gallery; Johnson C. Smith University; Independence National Bank; the Gaston County Library, and the Art 1 Gallery.

He also has shown his work in galleries and traveling shows throughout North Carolina including Shelby, Hickory, Wilkesboro, Statesville, Morganton, Asheville, Spartanburg, Smithfield, and Charlotte. He resides in Gastonia, NC.

Melvin Leon Woods


Born: Kingstree, SC
Education: Winston-Salem State University, NC
Degree: BA, Fine Arts
Mr. Woods was born into a family of talented artists and craftsman, his grandmother was a quilt maker and his grandfather, a blacksmith. As a child he began drawing pictures and comic book characters with encouragement from his parents. In 1993, he decided to leave the family cement business and turned professional as a woodcarver and sculptor welder. He also returned to school at Winston-Salem State University, Winston-Salem, N.C. to

earn a four-year degree in fine arts.

In his last semester of classes at the university, Woods was offered a position as assistant gallery director for the Winston-Salem State University Diggs Gallery. Upon leaving that position he worked as an adjunct instructor at the school before accepting a position in 2005 as a Gallery Assistant, Artist in Residence, and Sculptor and Ceramics instructor at Benedict College in Columbia, SC.

Woods’ carvings reflect a strong African influence. The main themes he seeks to present in his art work are everyday life, his African and African American culture, his past, and his present. Also, he is inspired by the natural things he sees around him. His work has been exhibited in the Carolinas, Virginia, and Italy. Mr. Woods lives with his wife Marcella in Columbia, SC.

Phone: 803.740.2748 or E-Mail:

Roy Lindsay Wood


Born: Gastonia, NC
Education: Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Harris School of Advertising in Nashville, Tennessee and the Art Instruction School of Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Degree: Diploma, Advertising Design
Mr. Woods is an eclectic artist who is a sculptor and painter who also does faux-painting, recycled art, and mobiles. He is involved with Behind the Art Studio and Gallery as teaching artist in Gastonia, NC.

His studio and gallery, Creations by Roy Lindsay is located in the historic downtown area at 170–C West Franklin Boulevard, Gastonia, NC.

Phone: 704.678.7224

Website: and .