The Tyler Museum of Art has announced that John Biggers’ newly restored mural A History of Education in Morris County will be on view at the museum from August 20 to September 10. Originally painted for the George Washington Carver High School for African-American students in Naples, TX (now Paul Pewitt Elementary), the work was removed after Morris County’s schools were integrated. The 22-by- 6-foot mural then went into storage and eventually ended up in an outdoor shed until it was found and returned it to the school’s library.
A History of Education in Morris County is different from some of Biggers’ other large-scale projects because it wasn’t painted on site; instead, he created the work in Houston using a single piece of muslin stretched over a wooden frame. Though Biggers is best known for founding Texas Southern University’s art department and for painting public works (some of which have also recently been conserved), his art pops up frequently in both gallery and museum shows across the state.
The Tyler Museum’s Executive Director, Chris Leahy, commented on the importance of the mural’s story:
This powerful work of art portrays a story of the struggle for education in rural Texas in the 1950s… This is a great opportunity to celebrate the opening of a new school year with this mural about the education of young African-American children in the 1950s in Morris County, Texas.
The conservation of the mural was a joint effort by the Tyler Museum of Art, administrators from the Northeast Texas Community College, and Pewitt ISD officials. After it’s exhibition at the Tyler Museum, the mural will be relocated to its new home at the Northeast Texas Community College campus in Mount Pleasant.