North Carolina Pottery: Diversity and Traditions

Exhibition on view at the Mint Museum Randolph February 6- December 31, 2010

Opening February 6 at the Mint Museum Randolph is North Carolina Pottery: Diversity and Traditions, an exhibition that showcases the rich history of pottery-making in the state. Featuring more than 50 works dating from the late 1700s to the present, the installation represents North Carolina’s most important pottery areas, including the Catawba Valley, the mountains, Seagrove and the Moravian settlements.

Moravian potters Gottfried Aust and Rudolf Christ are the earliest potters represented in the exhibition. They emigrated from Germany to the Moravian community of Bethabara in Forsyth County in the mid-1700s. Among the 19th century potters featured are Daniel Seagle from Catawba Valley, and Chester Webster and Himer Jacob Fox from the Piedmont. Craftsmen from the 20th century include Oscar Bachelder, Charlie Teague and Burlon Craig, while contemporary artists and studios include Ben Owen III, Jane Peiser, Bulldog Pottery and Paradox Pottery.

North Carolina is known for its significant local dynasties of potters, and a number of these families are represented in the exhibition, including the Coles of Randolph and Moore counties and the Hiltons of Catawba County. The fact that the pottery tradition in the state has thrived so well for over two centuries is due, at least in part, to talented potting families such as these, who have passed down essential skills and techniques from one generation to the next. All of the objects on view are from the Mint’s permanent collection, which is notable for being the largest public collection of North Carolina pottery in the country.

Jaguar: Power in the Ancient Americas

The exhibition Jaguar: Power in the Ancient Americasfeatures the remarkable diversity of jaguar representations in earthenware, stone, wood and the fiber arts throughout the ancient Americas and among modern indigenous peoples. From intricate masks to delicate ceramics, visitors will experience the extraordinary artistic variations unique to each culture and explore the layers of meaning behind these representations.

Regarded as the most powerful predatory animal in the ancient Americas, the jaguar’s strength and prowess prompted its use as an important symbol of royalty.  From Mexico to Peru, the jaguar and puma symbolized the power of rulers. The jaguar was also associated with the underworld and its many deities, often adorning funerary objects such as burial urns that entombed the bones of honored ancestors.

These mighty felines also made reference to the belief in the spiritual transformative abilities of rulers and special religious practitioners who, in their animal spiritual forms, could harness sacred powers to affect worldly affairs. The jaguar was the prime companion spirit of the most powerful shamans, symbolizing the exceptional abilities of these potent practitioners.

Objects on view in the exhibition include ancient ritual drinking vessels, feasting ceramics, stone sculptures, textiles and modern performance masks, all decorated with the image of the mighty jaguar. Through these artworks we can glimpse the social, political and spiritual richness of the indigenous cultures of the ancient Americas.

The exhibition is on view at the Mint Museum of Art July 19 – December 14, 2008.

The Art of Affluence Showcases Haute Couture and Luxury Fashions

mpressive works of wearable art will be on display in the special exhibition The Art of Affluence: Haute Couture and Luxury Fashions 1947-2007.

This exhibition presents selections from the Museum’s extensive holdings of haute couture and luxury garments that reflect 60 years of creativity by top European and American fashion designers.

The term haute couture (French for “high sewing”) refers to one-of-a-kind, custom-made garments and is used by fashion firms around the world to describe their high-end lines. Due to their exclusivity and expert attention to detail, these garments can cost upwards of $20,000 per item and are characterized by flair, taste, fine materials and distinctive quality. Additionally, most every haute couture house creates a luxury prêt-a-porter, or ready-to-wear collection, which is classified as luxury clothing.

The Art of Affluence features garments and accessories by renowned designers including Chanel, De La Renta, Dior, Givenchy, Saint Laurent, Valentino and Versace, among others. The exhibition explores the creation of new trends by earlier designers such the French master Christian Dior who premiered his first collection in 1947 Paris which was known thereafter as “The New Look” and Spaniard Cristóbal Balenciaga with his 1960s’ sculptural silhouettes for both day and evening.

Later designers, such as Zandra Rhodes and Gianni Versace, reflect the evolving use of vivid color and bold patterns in their couture designs. A notable Versace item in the exhibition is a gentleman’s ensemble designed for entertainer Sir Elton John, who sold items from his colorful couture wardrobe in 2006 to benefit the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

The Art of Affluence will run through Spring 2010.