Today in Ceramic Art History: David Drake

by Gregory Lastrapes
May 3, 2019

Today we reflect on a pot made exactly 157 years ago by David Drake (c. 1801-1870), an enslaved ceramist working on a plantation pottery in the Edgefield District of South Carolina in the United States. Drake was one of many slaves who worked as “turners” throwing utilitarian wares on the wheel. Though much of the history of these turners remains obscure, Drake signed and dated his work. Furthermore, many of Drake’s pots are inscribed with original poetry, which is exceptional considering the illegality of being a literate slave at the time. The pot (see images, below) is inscribed, “I made this jar all of cross, If you don’t repent you will be lost,” which is likely a reference to biblical text. The opposing side bears Drake’s signature, “May 3, 1862/LM Dave.” 

Jar by "Dave," 1862, courtesy of The National Museum of American HistoryJar by "Dave," 1862, courtesy of The National Museum of American History

Images and information courtesy of The National Museum of American History. “Jar Made by ‘Dave.’” Thrown and incised stoneware with ash glaze. The National Museum of American History Collections, 996.0344.01. http://americanhistory.si.edu/collections/search/object/nmah_1181785.

Look for posts from our new Today in Ceramic Art History news series every month on our news page, and on Facebook and Instagram!

Recent News

May 14, 2019

WRITING TIP TUESDAY: A New Service from Studio Potter

Today's tip: In artist statements, avoid personifying your work.

It is common for artists to write in their statements “my work does this or that,” or “my work explores…,” and the art world mostly accepts this convention. But in... Read More

Share Share
May 4, 2019

This month, we're pleased to be featuring two talented young artists. Their work avaliable for purchase in our online shop. In exchange for the sale of their work, the artist will receive a one-year membership to the journal. Want to be featured in... Read More

Share Share
Apr 12, 2019

April showers bring...the return of Pots for Membership! Back after a winter hiatus, Studio Potter is pleased to introduce three artists and offer their work for sale in our online... Read More

Share Share