Beyond Utility: Pottery Created by Enslaved Hands showcases remarkable pots made by enslaved people in the mid-19th century. Although crafted for utilitarian purposes, these jars, jugs and other vessels exemplify the work of experienced and talented artisans. Using a variety of forms and decoration, the featured objects demonstrate how largely unknown potters carefully shaped, molded, embellished, and, in the case of David Drake, also known as “Dave the Potter”, inscribed these containers.
Whether built to hold grains or liquids, these receptacles incorporated appealing aesthetic elements within everyday functional items in the 19th century. Today, they provide a material link to a lesser-known part of American history, specifically the life and work of enslaved Africans. Compiled from local private collections, Beyond Utility provides audiences with a visual supplement to the important information to be shared at the October symposium, Slavery and Freedom in Savannah.
|Top: Attributed to Dave, the potter, Edgefield District, South Carolina; Storage Jar, mid-19th century; Inscribed: H. Panzerbieter Groceries, King & Columbus Street, Charleston, S. C.; Alkaline-glazed stoneware; 13 ½ x 10 ½ x 10 inches; Collection of Howard Lee Blatner|
Attributed to Davies Pottery, Edgefield District, South Carolina; Face Jug, c. 1862; 5 x 3 ¾ x 4 inches; Collection of Mary Daniell DeValinger Blatner
Attributed to Colin Rhodes Pottery, Shaw’s Creek, Edgefield, South Carolina; Storage Jar with flower decoration, c. 1850; 11 ½ x 9 ¼ x 9 inches; Collection of Mary Daniell DeValinger Blatner
Unknown (Attributed to Chandler Pottery, Edgefield District, South Carolina); Jug with garland design, c. 1850-60; 13 x 22 inches; Collection of The Acacia Collection of African Americana