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The History of Negro Education in Morris County, Texas 1955 Original Location: Library, George Washington Carver High School, Naples, Texas Current Location: Elementary school library, new addition, Paul Pewitt Independent School District, Omaha-Naples, Texas The History of Negro Education in Morris County, Texas Casein on muslin 66” x 264” Theisen, pg. x-xi History Commissioned by the school board to honor the retirement of P.Y. Gray, principal of George Washington Carver High School for Negroes in Naples, Texas. Taken down and “stored” in a shed, the mural was soon lost. Rediscovered in 1985 by Olive Jensen Theisen while she was looking for art supplies Rededicated in 1989 Theisen, pgs. 28-31 The Artist’s Words “„If you love a child, and that child disappears, you always will wonder what happened to that child. It is like that with my murals. For seventeen years, I had wondered what happened to a mural I painted for Naples, a little community in northeast Texas. The story of how that „child‟ was rescued has given me the inspiration and energy to keep going now.‟” Theisen, pg. 28 The Story „“The spiritual leader—the preacher—a descendant of the chief priest, was instrumental in arousing his people to an improvement of their lot through education and any sacrifice necessary to pay for it….‟” Theisen, pg. 28 The Story “„Gazing upon this ritual that will determine their destiny are innocent youth perched birdlike on a postoak fence.‟” Theisen, pg. 28 The Story “„In a center panel, the Carver High principal, P.Y. Gray, and his assistant, a homemaking teacher, instruct students in quilting, weaving, cooking, preserving, farming and animal husbandry as well as in reading, writing and arithmetic…‟” Theisen, pg. 28 The Story “„On the far right side of the mural appears the new consolidated high school building, Carver High, with the children arriving in new buses from all parts of the county…‟” Theisen, pg. 30 Symbols Quilt motif Railroad Tracks Shotgun Houses Tree of Life The face of a young man with a vision (appears also in The Contribution of Negro Women to American Life and Education) Theisen, pg. 30 Artistic Influences “As with many of Biggers‟ earlier murals, this work reflect the influence of Rivera, particularly in the palette, the groupings of figures…, and in the inscriptions incorporated into the composition conveying a social message.” Theisen, pg. 30 Source Images of artwork, artist quotes, and descriptions of the mural are taken from The Murals of John Thomas Biggers: American Muralist, African American Artist by Olive Jensen Theisen (1996).
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