S.C. Arts Awards: Tom Flowers

2021 Recipient Feature Series

As the day nears for the 2021 South Carolina Arts Awards, The Hub is focusing on this year’s recipients: seven receiving the South Carolina Governor’s Awards for the Arts and two receiving the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award, which are managed jointly by the South Carolina Arts Commission and McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina.

Tom Flowers

Lifetime Achievement (Posthumous) | Governor’s Awards for the Arts

A native of Washington, Flowers was born in 1928. He attended Mount Vernon High School and Furman University on a football scholarship and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in art. He went on to the University of Iowa for his master’s of fine arts. After a short stay in the U.S. Air Force he was drafted in the U.S. Army during the Korean War.

He taught at Furman University for 30 years, from 1959 to 1989 when he joined the emeritus faculty. Tom was chairman of the art department for most of his tenure at Furman. Prior to that he taught at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina and Ottawa University in Ottawa, Kansas.

Flowers exhibited widely as an artist, winning many awards including Springs Mills best-in-show, Art in Architecture Award from the South Carolina American Institutes of Greenville for a carved/painted constructed mural for the Greenville City Hall. He was selected as one of the 100 Artists/100 Years exhibit at the South Carolina State Museum in Columbia. He has had many shows in the Midwest, South, and Southeast. Many of his works are in permanent and private collections including the (South Carolina) State Art Collection, Springs Mills, Greenville County Museum of Art, Asheville Art Museum, Columbia Museum of Art, Florence County Museum, Citizens and Southern Bank, South Carolina National Bank, Federal Reserve Bank of Virginia, and Bank of America (née NationsBank). He was one of 12 artists from South Carolina whose works were presented in the South Carolina National Bank exhibit, The Bicentennial, An Interpretive Approach. His work was also included in the Portrait of the South exhibition in Rome, Italy. He served as president of the Greenville Artist Guild and a board member of the Guild of South Carolina Artists.

He was a former member of the board of trustees of the Greenville County Museum of Art, a state representative of the American Craft Council, a member of the Guild of S.C. Artists advisory board, and a Pickens County arts commissioner.

Thomas Earl Flowers passed away Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020, after his nomination was made in the artist category.


Mr. Flowers worked with college students and influenced generations of students throughout his career. He had a way of bringing people together and supported many artists. His impact on the Greenville community and beyond is seen through the work of his students who later became artists, teachers, business leaders, and other professional careers.

Donna Shank
Fine Arts Center

tom flowers' governor's award statue on statehouse grounds in columbia

The South Carolina Arts Awards stream live Monday, May 24, 2021. The festivities begin at 6 p.m. on SouthCarolinaArts.com. There is no in-person event in 2021. The virtual ceremony will be available on demand from the S.C. Arts Commission YouTube Channel after the livestream presentation.

Meet the Recipients

Use these links to read the long-form bios of the other 2021 South Carolina Arts Awards recipients.