Excerpts from Faith of the Dreamer: Artworks by Gwendolyn Payton

Excerpts from Faith of the Dreamer: Artworks by Gwendolyn Payton opens in the North Gallery on January 15 - March 12, 2022

Gallery Artist Talk scheduled Thursday, February 3, 6 pm Register HERE for your free tickets

Gwendolyn Payton received a degree in Biology in 1972 from Mercer University but was initially denied a double Major in Art & Biology despite having completed the required courses due to racial discrimination. Gwendolyn was a 1965-1968 participant in the Upward Bound program at Mercer, a US government funded program for minority high school students seeking to be a first generation college student. Gwendolyn attended Mercer University as a student from 1968-1972. During matriculation at Mercer, The head of the art department at Mercer at the time said that he didn't think that a person of color was smart enough to earn a degree from his department. After completing the course work required for the Studio Art degree, Gwendolyn was told by that professor that the artwork offered for the Senior Exhibit was too controversial for the show and she could not participate in the Senior Exhibit. This action led to her not receiving the degree in Studio Art. After several attempts over the past 50 years to have her degree requirements and the circumstances reviewed, Gwendolyn, met a professor from Mercer University by chance at the airport. After sharing her story, the professor took it upon herself to have the current Dean of Liberal Arts review Gwendolyn’s transcript. It was confirmed that Gwendolyn completed the course work for the Studio Art degree over 50 years ago.


In 2020, Mercer offered Gwendolyn the opportunity to showcase art pieces that could have been part of the 1972 Senior Exhibit as well as recent art pieces. The exhibit was titled The Faith of the Dreamer.

On May 17, 2021, Gwendolyn’s faith was rewarded when she marched across the stage with the Class of 2021 to receive her degree in Studio Art from Mercer University.

After the experience at Mercer, Gwendolyn received a B. S. Degree in Medical Technology and  worked along side her husband in his pediatric practice for almost 30 years.

Gwendolyn is an active member of the Portrait Society of America and a proliferative portrait artist. She has continued to paint portraits for family and commissions over the years. Most recently, she completed 2 commissions in 2021. This exhibit includes 3 paintings, 1 sculpture and a photo journal of a sculpture done for the Senior Exhibit of 1972 as well as a few recent paintings.

Note from the artist:

My husband, Dr. Victor Payton, and I met at Mercer and married during our college days in 1971. We have lived in the Athens area for over 40 years worked together for 28 years in his pediatric practice. We are blessed with 4 adult children and 9 grandchildren.

On Sept. 25, 2021, my husband of 50 years passed away after a 7 year battle with cancer. He was with me through all the trials and I present this Excerpt from the Faith of the Dreamer Exhibit to the Athens community in his honor. I’m grateful to the Lyndon House for asking to display original pieces that would have been in the Senior Exhibit at Mercer in 1971, had I been allowed to complete my degree requirements.