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. Even more impressive was his ability to read and write, a skill that meant death for many enslaved people. Dave signed, dated and inscribed his pots with short couplets that some believe to be coded messages.
In this archival edition of Radio Chipstone, contributor gianofer fields reaches deep into the archives to introduce us to a phenomenal artisan. She is joined by Ethan Lasser who is currently the Chair of the Arts of Americas at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and Orron Kenyetta who is an educator, poet, artist, and performer in Chicago.
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 Guests:
Ethan Lasser is currently the John Moors Cabot Chair, Arts of Americas at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. He previously served as the Theodore E. Stebbins Jr. Curator of American Art and Head of the Division of European and American Art at the Harvard Art Museums. A specialist in early America, Lasser graduated from Williams College and received his doctorate from Yale University. In 2019, he co-founded The MARCH Project, a curatorial training initiative with the Alliance of Historically Black College and University Museums and Art Galleries. Prior to assuming his post at Harvard, Lasser served as Curator of the Chipstone Foundation in Milwaukee, where he curated multiple shows including a 2010 project with contemporary artist Theaster Gates entitled To Speculate Darkly: Theaster Gates and Dave the Potter.
Orron Kenyetta is an educator, poet, artist, and performer in Chicago. Kenyatta is the author of numerous books and has performed across the globe. Mr. Kenyatta is the founder of StillBlackSee.
Image: Detail. David Drake (ca. 1801–1870s). Stony Bluff Manufactory (Edgefield District, South Carolina). Storage jar, 1858. Alkaline-glazed stoneware. H: 22 5/8 in. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, Ronald S. Kane Bequest, in memory of Berry B. Tracy, 2020. Photograph courtesy of the MetMuseum.org.
This segment comes from the Radio Chipstone Archives on WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio.