“I am a descendant of slaves.”
~Jim McDowell, potter
“My face jugs are ugly because
slavery was ugly.”
~Jim McDowell, potter
“There are times when I sit at the wheel
when I believe ideas come to me
from the ancestors.”
~Jim McDowell, potter
“I’ve been making face jugs for over
35 years, but I am not a folk artist.
I am directly inspired by African
American and Caribbean traditions.”
~Jim McDowell, potter

Jim McDowell is listed as one of 300 names defining the USA’s creative landscape in the Keepers of Culture section of Wallpaper magazine, August 2023.



SOCO Gallery

SOCO Gallery Charlotte, NC

“New North State”

June 12 – August 7, 2024


TiWa Gallery

TiWa Gallery ~ NYC

“Coetir of the Woods” A Group Show

June 21 – July 20


Longhouse Reserve, East Hampton, NY

Object & Thing Goes to the Beach
East Hampton, New York
May 27 to September 3, 2023
A selection of 100 objects by 34 artists will spend the summer at the LongHouse Reserve in East Hampton.


The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
New York, New York
September 2022 – February 5, 2023
“Hear Me Now”
The Black Potters of Old Edgefield, South Carolina


Sotheby’s Auction House

Sotheby’s Auction House
New York, New York
Curated Art Sale
Face Jugs by Jim McDowell included inhouse auction and online
Listing Period: September 24 – October 4 2022

Africans made face jugs for use in spiritual and funerary practice or to ward away evil. There are many myths and stories about these jugs. Sometimes a face jug was buried next to the doorway of a home, in the belief it held a spirit of protection. I’ve heard they are created ugly to scare away the devil. Another story says if the face jug on a grave is found to be broken, the soul of that person went on to heaven. Whatever the reason for their existence, I know face jugs, often called conjure jugs, were made by enslaved and newly freed persons of African descent in this country.

I believe 19th century or early 20th century white potters appropriated the face jug design, now considered southern folk art. I’m taking it back, one jug at a time.