Hear Me Now: The Black Potters of Old Edgefield, South Carolina

Monica Obniski, Curator of Decorative Arts and Design, and Katherine Jentleson, Merrie and Dan Boone Curator of Folk and Self-Taught Art discuss the exhibit.

“Hear Me Now: The Black Potters of Old Edgefield, South Carolina” – on display through May 12, 2024 - is a critically acclaimed exhibition featuring nearly 60 ceramic objects created by enslaved African Americans in Edgefield, South Carolina. 

This powerful exhibition demonstrates the strength and endurance of the human spirit regardless of circumstance. The exhibit showcases a remarkable display of artistic and cultural significance.  The works include monumental storage jars by the literate potter and poet Dave (later recorded as David Drake, ca. 1800-1870) and rare examples of utilitarian wares and face vessels by unrecorded makers, including a ca. 1840 water cooler jug from the High’s collection. 

Dating back to decades before the Civil War, this collection offers a glimpse into the rich heritage and craftsmanship of African American artisans in the antebellum South. The pieces on display highlight the skillful techniques and unique styles that distinguish the pottery created by these talented individuals. 

Visitors to the exhibit can expect to see a diverse array of pottery, including functional items like jugs, jars, and storage vessels, as well as decorative pieces.  Each piece tells a story of resilience, creativity, and cultural identity, reflecting the traditions and influences of the Black Potters who contributed to this important chapter in American art history. The exhibit serves as a tribute to the often-overlooked contributions of Black artisans in the pre-Civil War era, offering a deeper appreciation for their artistry and legacy. 

“Hear Me Now” also includes work by leading contemporary Black artists who have responded to or whose practice connects with the Edgefield story, including Theaster Gates, Simone Leigh and Woody De Othello. The exhibition is organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 


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