Diggs Gallery is named for James Thackeray "T" Diggs, Jr. (1915-1989), a 1934 graduate of Winston-Salem State, a painter and a former WSSU art professor for more than 40 years.
Professor Diggs was a philosopher, educator and artist who always stressed the importance of pure art. "Art is a means of expressing, creating, doing your own thing, and being liberated." This was his philosophy for 45 years, so much so that he practiced what he preached; designed the buildings of WSSU's campus, enjoying the company of his colleagues, being surrounded by students looking for a better technique, and producing drawings, prints and paintings for pleasure.
James Gordon Hanes, Jr. was born on March 3, 1916, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to James Gordon Hanes Sr. and Emmie Drewry Hanes. His family was well-established in the Winston-Salem community. His father was the founder, president and chairman of the Board of the Hanes Hosiery Co. and its successor, Hanes Corp. Gordon Hanes, Jr., graduated from Woodberry Forest School in 1933, and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1937 from Yale University. He went on to study Business Administration at Pace College and graduated in 1939. He married Helen Greever Copenhaver on August 30, 1941 and had three children, James Gordon Hanes, III, Eldridge C. Hanes, and Margaret Drewry Hanes. His interest in art brought him to James Thackery Diggs, Jr. and a friendship was born which remained strong until Professor Diggs death in 1989. Gordon Hanes remembered that friendship in the creation of Diggs Gallery in 1989. The gallery first opened its doors to the public on October 2, 1990.
The gallery is the major cultural center at Winston-Salem State University and offers one of the largest exhibition spaces dedicated to the arts of Africa and the African Diaspora in North Carolina. Exhibitions, publications and programs address abroad range of artistic expression, with special concentration on African-American and regional art.
Since Diggs Gallery opened in 1990, Winston-Salem State University has witnessed tremendous cultural growth and, through gifts and acquisitions, has amassed a permanent art collection. Composed of the Sculpture Garden, the Biggers Murals and a number of paintings, prints and sculptures, the collection highlights African and African-American art. Through gifts by the late Gordon Hanes Jr., the gallery also houses an impressive collection of works on paper by well-known European and American artists such as; Jean Francois Millet, Joan Miro, and Robert Rauchenberg.
An art tour of our campus offers a substantial introduction to, or more advanced study of, contemporary African-American art. WSSU seeks to make a significant contribution to the cultural life of its students, to the citizens of this region and to visitors to our community. We invite you to visit one of the region's oldest educational institutions for a very special cultural experience!