Black Collections exhibit celebrates Dr. J. Eugene Grigsby Jr. and Arizona Black artists

Published March 1, 2023
Updated March 29, 2023

A new exhibit at Hayden Library on the Tempe campus is shining a light on the history of Black artists in Arizona. 

Exhibit display with text and artwork including photography, prints and paintings

ASU Library’s Black Collections presents a new exhibit featuring renowned artist, educator and community activist Dr. J. Eugene Grigsby Jr. (1918-2013) and his impact on Arizona’s Black art scene. “Black History at ASU: The Legacy of Dr. J. Eugene Grigsby Jr.” features incredible works of art by local Black artists who were mentored and influenced by Grigsby including Clottee Hammons, Leonard Wilson, Dee Dee Woods and Roosevelt “Rip” Woods. The exhibit is on display at Hayden Library on the ASU Tempe campus until June 30, 2023.

“Dr. Grigsby left an incredible impact at ASU and in the Phoenix community,” said Jessica Salow, curator of Black Collections at the ASU Library. “I’m thrilled to help tell his story for a new generation of students on campus, and I’m grateful to the friends and students of Dr. Grigsby who have shared their art and stories.”

In the exhibit, visitors can experience drawings, paintings and prints by all of the artists showcasing their unique style and technique. Grigsby moved to Arizona in 1946 to establish an art department at the segregated Carver High School, and when it closed in 1954 he moved to Phoenix Union High School before coming to ASU where he taught for over two decades. Viewers can explore images from Grigsby’s teaching at Carver High School, outreach events he conducted with art education students, and an 1981 exhibition catalog from the Artists of the Black Community of Arizona group, known as ABC/Az.

Black Collections, a new archival repository within the Community-Driven Archives Initiative at ASU Library, is focused on creating a robust community collection dedicated to documenting the lived experiences of Black people living and thriving in Arizona.

“Black Collections is the first collection dedicated to ‘uncovering’ the Black and African American history of Arizona State University and of the Black and African American communities that surround our campuses,” said Salow. “It is critical we understand the impact Black and African American people have had on shaping the history of the Southwest.” 

In addition to the exhibit, the public is invited to a series of events to celebrate and critically examine Black history in Arizona. To learn more and register, visit 

“This exhibit is a small slice of that history that can now be shared with others who may not understand the impact one person had on the art community of Arizona,” added Salow. “We hope visitors take this small glimpse into Dr. Grigsby’s life and learn more about the artists on display here and the work they are doing here in Arizona.”

For questions about Black Collections or the exhibit, contact Jessica Salow at