“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



Frieze Los Angeles 2022

Frieze Los Angeles 2022
February 17 – 20
9900 Wilshire Boulevard
Beverly Hills, CA


“Everyday Rituals”

“Everyday Rituals” at FARAGO x Tiwa Select
An installation view of “Everyday Rituals”

Farago Gallery
322 S. Broadway (2nd floor),
Los Angeles, California, 90013

February 17-22, 2022  11am -5pm

Preview February 16
Farago Gallery


University of Illinois A&D Visiting Artist

University of Illinois
College of Fine & Applied Arts
African American Face Jugs | Jim McDowell
Thursday September 16, 2021
Online / 5:30pm CT
Watch Video


The Noyes House

At The Noyes House
Blum & Poe, Mendes Wood DM, and Object & Thing
September 15 – November 28, 2020
New Canaan, CT

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.