Focusing on the work of African American potters in the 19th-century American South—in dialogue with contemporary artistic responses—the exhibition presents approximately 50 ceramic objects from Old Edgefield District, South Carolina, a center of stoneware production in the decades before the Civil War. Hear Me Now will include monumental storage jars by enslaved and literate potter and poet David Drake alongside rare examples of the region’s utilitarian wares, as well as enigmatic face vessels whose makers were unrecorded. Considered through the lens of current scholarship in the fields of history, literature, anthropology, material culture, diaspora, and African American studies, these 19th-century vessels testify to the lived experiences, artistic agency, and material knowledge of enslaved peoples.
Accompanied by a catalogue.
The exhibition is made possible by Kathryn Ploss Salmanowitz, The Met’s Fund for Diverse Art Histories, the Terra Foundation for American Art, Anthony W. and Lulu C. Wang, The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation, and the Henry Luce Foundation.
It is organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
The catalogue is made possible by the William Cullen Bryant Fellows of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Additional support is provided by Bridget and Al Ritter.
Listen to artists, historians, potters, and an archeologist discuss the work of David Drake and other enslaved potters from Edgefield.
Join co-curators Adrienne Spinozzi, Ethan Lasser, and Jason Young for a virtual tour of Hear Me Now: The Black Potters of Old Edgefield, South Carolina.