Orangeburg artist Floyd Gordon, ’80, will be officially inducted into the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame on Friday, Sept. 28, in Atlanta for his achievement in the field of the arts.
“I am very proud to be one of the 2012 inductees. It made me even more excited to be nominated by Claflin University for this distinguished honor,” said Gordon. “This acknowledgement took me for an enormous but pleasant surprise.”
Gordon describes his artwork as very unique and colorful. “I approach each piece as though it’s the first I’ve ever created.” he says. His art has gathered a famous following over the years. Patti Labelle, U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel and legendary comedian Dick Gregory all own Gordon’s paintings.
However, Gordon gives full credit to his collegiate experience at Claflin for where he is today. “From day one, it was always hands-on from the president down to the custodians. Every one cared and played a personal role in my development,” he recalled.
He first visited Claflin in the eighth grade when his first art teacher James McFadden, ’54 – a very accomplished artist in his own right – introduced him to then University art chair Arthur Rose. Rose was instrumental in revitalizing a once dormant art department and taught many successful artists.
Gordon recalled he initially taught himself how to draw using a coloring book and crayons. But here at the University is where began to hone his gift until he was drafted by the U.S. Army and stationed in Germany. During that time, Gordon was inspired artistically by the bright lights of the German city Nuremberg as he descended from the darkness of night in a plane. “It was so striking at the time,” he said.
He returned home in 1969 but didn’t enroll back at Claflin. Gordon worked various jobs including the U.S. Postal Service and owned an art gallery in Hollis, NY. The artist rekindled a strong desire to fully delve into his work upon returning to South Carolina in 1978. However, times were tough and Gordon wound up working at a gas station in Orangeburg.
It was there by chance he saw Claflin’s sixth president, the late H.V. Manning, who strongly encouraged Gordon return to pursue his art degree. “He lit a fire under me that I needed to finish what I started,” said Gordon.
After finishing Claflin, he received attention at festivals in Walterboro and Charleston and his career catapulted from there. He would go on to travel across the nation having around 25 art shows a year. He opened and operated Unique Gallery and Frame shop here locally as well.
“To me, Claflin has always been my family,” Gordon said. “I was never just another number like students experience at other schools.”
The National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame Foundation, Inc. was established 25 years by The Council of National Alumni Associations with the goal of preserving and advancing Historically Black Colleges and Universities.