“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

Events

 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
New York, New York
September 2022 – February 5, 2023
https://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2022/edgefield
“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

 

Northern Clay Center

Northern Clay Center
Minneapolis, Minnesota
September 17 – October 30, 2022
https://northernclaycenter.org/2022/01/01/a-gathering/
“A Gathering: Work from Contemporary Black American Ceramic Artists”

 

Blowing Rock Art & History Museum

Blowing Rock Art & History Museum
Blowing Rock, North Carolina
Present through October 30, 2022
https://www.blowingrockmuseum.org/see/jagged-path
“Jagged Path: The African Diaspora in Western North Carolina in Craft, Music, and Dance”

 

Artsville Gallery at Marquee Asheville

Artsville Gallery at Marquee Asheville
Asheville, North Carolina
Present through October 30, 2022
https://marqueeasheville.com/
“A Walk in the Woods”

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.