Inventory of the Hayward L. Oubre Jr. Papers, 1936 - 2003

Winston-Salem State University

Winston-salem State University Logo

Contact Information:

Winston-Salem State University Archives
C.G. O'Kelly Library
Winston-Salem, N.C. 27110

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Winston-Salem State University. Archives
Creator: Oubre, Hayward L., 1916-
Title: Hayward L. Oubre Jr. Papers, 1936-2003
Language of Material: Material in English
Location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult Winston-Salem State University Archives.
Abstract: Hayward Louis Oubre, Jr. (1916- ) was an artist and educator, primarily known for his sculpting, painting, and printmaking expertise. He initiated the studio art major at Winston-Salem State University and served as chairperson of the art department from 1965 to 1981.
His papers primarily consist of photocopied correspondence, articles and other printed materials, photographs, and video tapes which document Oubre's contributions to Dillard University, the U.S. military, and especially the art world, including his clarified color wheel.
Extent: 2 linear feet, 3 archival boxes
Back to Top

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research

Back to Top

Copyright Notice

Copyright is retained by the creators, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Back to Top

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Hayward L. Oubre Jr. Papers (MS 2), Winston-Salem State University Archives, Winston-Salem, NC, USA.

Back to Top

Acquisitions Information

Gifts of Hayward Oubre, 1996-2004.

Back to Top

Processing Information

Processed by Carter Cue, JN. 1998 and Cat S. McDowell, March 2005

Edited and encoded by Cat S. McDowell, April 2005

Back to Top

Back to Top

Biographical Note

Hayward Louis Oubre, Jr. was born in 1916 in New Orleans, Louisiana, to Hayward and Amelie Keyes Oubre. He began his education in New Orleans' parochial schools. It was during elementary school that a teacher first recognized Oubre's artistic talents and asked him to draw a series of murals on the walls of selected classrooms. After graduating from high school, he entered New Orleans' predominantly black Dillard University. While at Dillard, Oubre was an illustrator for the college newspaper, a football player, and member of the track team. Although he worked full-time as a janitor to finance his college education, Oubre found time to participate in both art and athletics. He graduated from Dillard University in 1939 as the school's first art major. A chance encounter with a fellow Dillard graduate then led Oubre to Atlanta to study art under the tutelage of noted Harlem Renaissance artists Hale Woodruff and Nancy Prophet for 18 months. In 1940, upon the recommendation of Woodruff, Oubre ventured to Tuskegee Institute to assist in adding art to the new student union being built on its campus in Alabama. While at Tuskegee, he had the opportunity to talk and interact with renowned scientist George Washington Carver.

At the outbreak of World War II, Oubre was drafted into the United States Army. He served as a master sergeant in the 97th regiment, which consisted of 37,000 black army engineers, from 1941 to 1943. This regiment constructed Alaska's 1522-mile Alcan Highway, a military supply route to connect posts in Alaska with the midcontinental United States, which was completed in 1942. Upon completion of his tour of duty, Oubre returned to New Orleans and married Juanita Hurel, a theater instructor and educator, who later taught with her husband at Winston-Salem State University.

Oubre had aspirations to obtain the MFA degree at Cranbrook Academy of Art, but a former Dillard University instructor persuaded him to enroll at the University of Iowa. Oubre attended the University of Iowa from 1946 to 1948, during which time he was an apprentice in the studio of Argentine master printmaker Mauricio Lasansky. While at Iowa he created seven celebrated prints from etchings, including Self Portrait, Aftermath, Silent Sentinel and Entanglement. Following graduation from the University of Iowa, Oubre went on to teach at Florida A&M University (1948), Alabama State College (1949-1965) and finally Winston-Salem State University (1965-1981). As a professor of art, Oubre challenged standard theories by correcting the color triangle devised by Wolfgang Johann von Goethe. He further disproved von Goethe's color theory by devising his own color wheel, which was copyrighted in 1975. Among Oubre's renowned works are his wire sculptures Prophet, Young Horse and Convolutions, although he is perhaps best known locally for his wire sculpture of the Winston-Salem State University mascot "The Ram" that graces the entrance of the C.G. O'Kelly Library. After retiring from Winston-Salem State University as chairman of the art department in 1981, he was asked by noted sculptor and WSSU graduate Selma Burke to serve as curator of the Selma Burke Art Gallery, formerly housed on the campus of Winston-Salem State University. In addition to having his work shown in over 50 individual and group art exhibitions, Oubre's work can be found in the permanent collections of Winston-Salem State University, Atlanta University, University of Delaware, The High Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Oubre, as an expert in four art mediums, has been recognized by the state of North Carolina (Order of the Long Leaf Pine), the U.S. Pentagon, Who's Who in American Art, and featured in numerous books, magazines, and documentary films.

Back to Top

Collection Overview

The Oubre Papers primarily consist of original and photocopied printed material, with the bulk dating 1991 to 2003. This includes magazine and newspaper articles depicting Oubre's work and/or providing biographical information, press releases, auction notices, exhibit announcements, publicity material, and exhibit guides. It also contains a large amount of incoming correspondence, primarily photocopied duplicates, with the bulk dating 1992 to 2001. Notable is a directive concerning Officer Candidate School from Oubre's tenure in the Army. The collection also contains photocopies of Oubre's color wheels and triangles, a diploma and some certificates, and a resumé. Original materials in the collection include photographs, notably several of Oubre and his work like "The Ram," and a book of well-wishes from WSSU students and colleagues upon his retirement from the university in 1981. Three VHS tapes related to Oubre are also contained in the collection. The Oubre Papers are arranged alphabetically, with oversized and audiovisual materials housed in separate boxes.

Online Catalog Headings

Oubre, Hayward L. Jr., 1916-
African American art--20th century.
Artists, American.
Color wheels.
Color charts.
Wire craft.
Back to Top

Container List

Hayward L. Oubre Papers
Box 1
Awards, 1948, 1978, 1982
Color triangles
Color wheels
Correspondence, ca. 1942
Correspondence, 1963, 1969
Correspondence, 1974-1977
Correspondence, 1991
Correspondence, 1992
Correspondence, 1993
Correspondence, 1994
Correspondence, 1995
Correspondence, 1996-1997
Correspondence, Misc., 1992
Printed material, 1936-1940
Printed material, 1957, 1965-1969
Printed material, 1973-1976-1977, 1980
Printed material, 1991-1994
Printed material, 1995-1996
Printed material, 1997
Printed material, 2001-2003
Printed material, n.d
Resumé, ca. 1997
Retirement book, 1981

Oversize Materials
Box 2
Photographs of "The Ram" (4 photographs)
VHS Tapes
Box 3
Interview with Oubre by WXII12 News
Rediscovering American: The Alaska Highway
Selma Burke Gallery Tour, 1987