Exhibitions: American Identities: A New Look

John Biggers: Web of Life

This work is the final design for a twenty-six-foot mural, Web of Life (Texas Southern University Art Gallery, Houston), for the Nabrit Science Hall at Texas Southern University. John Biggers described its subject as “the interdependence of living organisms in the balance of nature, and the relationship of all organisms to one another through the long line of evolutionary descent.” Biggers centered the image on an essential earth mother, from whom creation expands in a delicately described network of life-forms and sequential seasonal settings. Throughout, he paired oppositional references to life and death (winter and summer), male and female (the two nudes), and Africa and America (in vignettes of harvest and sowing). A leading twentieth-century African American painter and muralist, Biggers drew inspiration from the Mexican Mural Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s, while also infusing the composition with the kind of organic, cellular design that was so current in mid-century American art. Web of Life is the first work to be purchased with the support of the Brooklyn Museum Fund for African American Art, initiated in 2010.