Feature Articles

April 2013

North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh, NC, Offers Exhibit of NC Earthenware

The North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh, NC, is presenting Art in Clay: Masterworks of North Carolina Earthenware, on view through Sept. 1, 2013.

The exhibition will celebrate the achievements of earthenware potters during the 18th and 19th centuries. This landmark exhibition showcases nearly 200 objects made by Piedmont potters. The exhibit was organized by Old Salem Museums & Gardens

Among the most masterful items are slipware dishes created by Moravian potters at Salem and Bethabara (in present-day Forsyth County) and by contemporary Germanic and British craftspeople in other areas of the Piedmont region. Art in Clay features pottery from distinguished public and private collections.

During the last half of the 18th century, potters of European and British descent introduced a variety of Old World ceramic traditions to the Carolina backcountry. These highly skilled craftsmen transformed clay into slipware dishes with designs reminiscent of 17th-century flower paintings; into pots and jars with vibrant abstract motifs; and into a menagerie of sculptural forms depicting owls, foxes and other creatures familiar to early settlers.

In addition to the Moravian earthenware tradition, Art in Clay reveals the contributions of Piedmont potters who worked outside the Moravian communities.

“For many years the Moravians who settled in what is now Forsyth County were credited with producing all of the slip-decorated ware made in the 18th and 19th centuries in the North Carolina backcountry,” said Johanna M. Brown, Director of Collections and Curator of Moravian Decorative Arts, Old Salem Museums & Gardens. “However, the research of the team of scholars and archaeologists working on the Art in Clay project has shown definitively that, while the Moravians were important contributors to the North Carolina earthenware tradition, potters of Germanic descent working in the St. Asaph’s district of what is now Alamance County (formerly part of Orange County) and Quaker potters working in Randolph County made equally significant contributions to this tradition.”

For the younger set, Art in Clay will include a hands-on area with age-appropriate activities. Children will create their own designs, learn how pottery is made, and more.

A variety of educational programs for all ages will complement the exhibit. These offerings will include Artist at Work programs featuring North Carolina potters, a lecture and children’s programs.

Art in Clay is sponsored by Old Salem Museums & Gardens, the Chipstone Foundation and the Caxambas Foundation. The NC Museum of History gratefully acknowledges the generous support of the following individuals and institutions: The Marion Stedman Covington Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. W. Trent Ragland Jr., Goodnight Educational Foundation, Ms. Nella P. Fulton, and Mr. and Mrs. C. Edward Pleasants.

Purchase tickets in the Museum Shop. Admission is $10 for ages 18 and up; $8 for senior citizens, active military personnel and college students with an ID. Tickets cost $5 for school groups (per person) and children ages 5 to 17. Admission is free for children ages 4 and under and for Museum of History Associates members. To schedule tours for groups of 10 or more, sign up online at (www.nccapvisit.org).

Be sure to stop by the Exhibition Shop to purchase wonderful reproductions of slip-decorated pottery and other pottery crafted by North Carolinians. Pick up an Art in Clay booklet about the exhibit for $5. For more in-depth information, purchase the 2009 and 2010 volumes of the award-winning journal Ceramics in America. In addition to illustrating hundreds of examples of North Carolina earthenware using the latest advances in digital photography, the journals present new research and insights by leading scholars from multiple disciplines.

The museum is located on E. Edenton Street, across from the State Capitol. Parking is available in the lot across Wilmington Street. The Museum of History, within the Division of State History Museums, is part of the NC Department of Cultural Resources.

The NC Department of Cultural Resources annually serves more than 19 million people through its 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, the nation’s first state-supported symphony orchestra, the State Library, the NC Arts Council, and the State Archives. Cultural Resources champions North Carolina’s creative industry, which employs nearly 300,000 North Carolinians and contributes more than $41 billion to the state’s economy. To learn more, visit (www.ncdcr.gov).

Old Salem Museums & Gardens in Winston-Salem, NC, is one of America’s most comprehensive history attractions. Its museums — the Historic Town of Salem and the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA), along with award-winning heirloom gardens — engage visitors in an educational and memorable historical experience about those who lived and worked in the early South. For more information about the museums’ collections and educational programs, please visit (www.oldsalem.org).

The Chipstone Foundation is dedicated to promoting American decorative arts scholarship. Originating in the private collection of Stanley and Polly Stone of Milwaukee, WI, Chipstone uses its objects and resources to support progressive scholarship, think tanks, museum projects and digital initiatives, much of which can be accessed at (www.chipstone.org) and at (www.artbabble.org). Since 2001, many of the foundation’s significant holdings have been on view in innovative displays at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Each year, the foundation also publishes two scholarly journals: American Furniture and Ceramics in America. Through a partnership with the Department of Art History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Chipstone additionally supports an academic program that explores material culture topics by bringing together scholars from diverse departments throughout the university.

Established by the late George S. Parker, II, former President, CEO and Chairman of the Board of the Parker Pen Company, the Caxambas Foundation is a Milwaukee-based organization dedicated to promoting scholarship in the fields of American history, decorative arts and fine art.

For further information check our NC Institutional Gallery listings, call the Museum at 919/807-7900 or visit (www.ncmuseumofhistory.org).

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