Dave the Potter was an artisan enslaved in South Carolina from his birth in 1801 until the end of the Civil War. His impressive body of work includes 27 stoneware storage jars. One of his large pots is at the center of an exhibit entitled The Dave Project: Exploring African-American Material Culture. It is part of the Chipstone Foundation collection at the Milwaukee Art Museum. The focus is nineteenth-century African American makers of ceramics and furniture.
Surrounding Dave’s pot are the paintings of Mutópe Johnson. Johnson is a native Milwaukean and the artist charged with bringing ancestral African American Craftsmen featured in the exhibit to life. In this edition of Radio Chipstone, contributor gianofer fields asks Johnson about the tools he used to give the craftsmen the dignity they deserve and create a sense of place.
About the Host:
gianofer (JON nah fer) fields is an Art Historian and Material Culture contributor and curates the Radio Chipstone series. The project is hosted by the School of Human Ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and funded by the Chipstone Foundation; a decorative arts foundation whose mission is preserving and interpreting their collection, as well as stimulating research and education in the decorative arts.
About the Guest:
Mutópe Johnson is a native Milwaukean, scholar, and artist. His professional background has included positions in graphic design, advertising and marketing communications firms. He received his Master of Fine Arts degree from the Peck School of Art & Design at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and he is currently a professor of art and design at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. The exhibit: The Dave Project: Exploring African-American Material Culture is part of the Chipstone Foundation collection at the Milwaukee Art Museum. It is currently on display in the Constance and Dudley Godfrey American Art Wing of the Milwaukee Art Museum.
Image: Pottery by Dave the Potter, 19th century. Courtesy of The Chipstone Foundation.
This segment comes from the Radio Chipstone Archives on WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio. See here.