SAVANNAH, GA (October 4, 2022) — Telfair Museums is honored to celebrate artist Phillip J. Hampton (1922-2016) with the first-ever large-scale museum retrospective of his work: Feels Like Freedom: Phillip J. Hampton, opening Oct. 7 at the Jepson Center. Meanwhile, Savannah State University’s Fine Arts Department is proud to announce their companion exhibit, The Early Years: Phillip Hampton, on view at the Kennedy Fine Arts Gallery.
Both exhibits explore Hampton’s influence, both locally and nationally, within the broader context of African American artmaking in the mid-20th century. “Long overdue for broader recognition, Telfair Museums and Savannah State University gather together work created by Hampton between 1950 and 2010 to make known his pioneering career and his experimentally fearless, visually engaging, and culturally relevant work,” says Erin Dunn, Telfair’s curator of modern and contemporary art.
Feels Like Freedom traces Hampton’s incredible artistic prolificacy, from the expressive realist drawings and genre paintings he created in Savannah to his later experiments in abstraction. His use of unique materials, including string gridwork, acrylic emulsions, and shaped canvases, speak to an inventive and evolving practice. In a 1995 interview for the Savannah Morning News, Hampton stated that he “always wanted to find something uniquely my own. … The search is more important to me than the conclusion.” Visitors are invited to revel in Hampton’s undeniably singular vision through his works—the fruits of a lifelong journey.
The Early Years commemorates Hampton’s 17-year career as visual arts professor and eventual department head at Savannah State College (present-day Savannah State University). From 1952 to 1969, Hampton expanded the college’s nascent arts program, including organizing the Telfair Academy’s first-ever exhibition of African American art in 1959. Hampton’s works will be displayed alongside Savannah State Professor Walter Simon’s 1940s murals in the University’s Kennedy Fine Arts Gallery, Oct. 2022-Jan. 2023. The gallery is open Mondays-Fridays. 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and the exhibition is free and open to the public.
Complementing Feels like Freedom is a publication about the artist, featuring recent scholarship and essays contributed by staff and faculty at Telfair Museums and Savannah State. Feels Like Freedom: Phillip J. Hampton is organized by Telfair Museums, in partnership with Black Art Auction, and curated by Erin Dunn, curator of modern and contemporary art. The exhibition will be on view at the Jepson Center from Oct. 7-Jan. 29, 2023.
The Art and Legacy of Phillip J. Hampton Opening Lecture
Oct. 6, 6 p.m.
Free and open to all Telfair Museum members
Reservations are required
Telfair Museums presents a lecture by Telfair curator Erin Dunn and Savannah State’s Dr. Peggy Blood, touching on Hampton’s artworks and impact on both institutions, as well as personal remembrances.
The Early Years: Phillip Hampton Opening Program and Lecture
Oct. 16, 3 p.m.
Asa Gordon Library and Kennedy Fine Arts Gallery
The program will open in the Asa Gordon Library with memories of Professor Hampton as a faculty member and community leader. Following the ceremony will be the viewing of Hampton’s work in the Kennedy Fine Arts Center Gallery.
Contemplative Viewing Experience: Feels Like Freedom
Oct. 27, 6 p.m.
Space is limited—advanced reservations are recommended
Ericka Tiffany Phillips is a meditation guide, community organizer, and rising thought leader in the field of mindfulness. As part of Telfair Museums’ Contemplative Viewing series, Phillips will lead participants through a guided tour of Feels like Freedom: Phillip J. Hampton, incorporating mindfulness meditation techniques into the viewing experience.
About Telfair Museums
Opened in 1886, Telfair Museums is the oldest public art museum in the South and the first U.S. museum founded by a woman. The museum features a world-class art collection in the heart of Savannah’s National Historic Landmark District and encompasses three sites: the Jepson Center for the Arts, the Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters, and the Telfair Academy. For more information on Telfair Museums, visit telfair.org.