Arts & Artisans
NC Art Pottery Exhibition At Museum Of The Albemarle
North Carolina’s rich art pottery is in the spotlight as the Museum of the Albemarle presents Formed, Fired and Finished in Elizabeth City. The exhibition, which opened May 14, will be displayed for a year, will feature a collection of more than 90 pottery pieces on loan from Dr. Everett James and Dr. Nancy Farmer, of Chapel Hill. Showcasing unusual words by talented potters, it will be the first and largest showing of North Carolina pottery in Eastern North Carolina.
North Carolina’s art pottery tradition traces its lineage to the 1760s when immigrant potters, mostly from England and Germany, settled their families in Central North Carolina, known today as the Seagrove area. Living on remote farms built on rich deposits of clay, the families made pottery for sale and trade. This traditional ceramic ware was used up to the early 20th century when a movement known as Arts and Crafts was sweeping the country. With an eye toward traditional craftsmanship and simple forms, the potters adopted the movement and began converting their traditional pottery forms into stylized shapes with a new palette of glazes.
“The potters converted jugs, butter churns and storage jars into decorative ceramics. They called the new forms ‘fancy ware,’ and today it is known as North Carolina art pottery,” said Don Pendergraft, Museum of the Albemarle exhibit design chief. “This transition helped keep North Carolina’s oldest continuous industry alive and thriving. The exhibit is a visual testament to their determination to remain in control of their destinies.”
The collection of James and Farmer is based on this time period and includes pieces from the eastern Piedmont families; Cravens, Coles, Owen (Owens), Aumans, and Teagues, from the Catawba Valley region; Hiltons, List, Propst, Ritchie, Reinhardt, and Craig, well-known Seagrove and Catawba Valley potters who embraced the “fancy ware” tradition. A few pieces of Catawba and Cherokee Indian will be displayed to examine the influences of tourist and the change to fancy ware. These regions made the most art pottery and are connected by the Hilton family, who worked and transferred ideas from Seagrove to Catawba.
The Museum of the Albemarle is located at 501 South Water Street in Elizabeth City. Admission is free. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays from 2 to 5 p.m.
added: April 12, 2011
updated: May 16, 2011