Exhibit Showcases State's Artistic Earthenware Traditions
"Art in Clay: Masterworks of North Carolina Earthenware" will celebrate the achievements of earthenware potters during the 18th and 19th centuries.
This landmark exhibition showcases nearly 200 objects made by Piedmont potters.
"Art in Clay," organized by Old Salem Museums and Gardens, will be on view at the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh from Friday, March 8, through Sunday, Sept. 1.
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 and 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.
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 nccapvisit.org.
For information about the Museum of History, call (919) 807-7900 or go to ncmuseumofhistory.org or Facebook.
The museum is located at 5 E. Edenton St., across from the State Capitol.
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