Savannah State University Showcases “The Early Years” Art Exhibition


Courtesy of Savannah State University

Savannah State University’s Visual and Performing Arts Program in partnership with the Telfair Museums is showcasing the ceremonial art installation titled The Early Years posthumously honoring professor and American painter Phillip J. Hampton (1922 – 2016). An opening reception will be held on Sunday, Oct. 2 on Savannah State’s campus in the Asa H. Gordon Library, followed by a viewing in the Kennedy Fine Arts Gallery from 3 – 6 p.m. The gallery is available for viewing Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public.

“Phillip Hampton, a professor of distinction and respected local and national artist, led young students by example,” said Peggy Blood, professor of Fine Arts, Humanities and Wellness. “He mentored his students to always explore and discover; never to settle. Hampton transmitted to his students a sense of pride in their culture and community; first as students studying on a HBCU campus, secondly, as aspiring artists, and lastly as citizens seeking equal representation.”

The late Hampton joined Savannah State College (Savannah State University) in 1952 and was instrumental in developing the university’s Department of Fine Arts, Humanities and Wellness by increasing course offerings and student enrollment in the arts. During his 17 years of service, Hampton gained respect as an educator and artist and was active in local and national organizations. He was known in the community for his genre paintings with roots in realism and later abstraction informed by his studies of art and cultural history.

Walter A. Simon mural 

In addition to Hampton’s work, two large murals by the late Walter Augustus Simon, also a professor at Savannah State College from 1948 to 1949, will be displayed. The exhibition, on display through January 2023, is made possible by the Michael K. and Marian E. Butler Family Collection, James and Brenda Rivers Family Collection and the Thom Pegg: Black Art Auction. ​A companion exhibition at the Telfair Museum’s Jepson Center titled, Feels Like Freedom: Phillip J. Hampton will continue exploring Hampton’s spirit as part of the broader context of African American artmaking in the mid-20th century with an opening on Oct. 7.