Ornamental Separator

“I made this…”: The Work of Black American Artists and Artisans

Now Open
On view in the Miodrag and Elizabeth Ridgely Blagojevich Gallery
This exhibition is made possible through a generous grant from The Americana Foundation


“I made this…” celebrates the lives of eighteenth through twentieth-century Black American artisans and artists through the material culture they created. The title comes from a quote by 19th-century enslaved potter David Drake who inscribed these words on one of his pots despite laws prohibiting literacy for enslaved people. Drake is just one of the many artists represented in this exhibition. Objects from both Decorative Arts and Folk Art collections will be displayed in the same gallery contrasting the aesthetics and designs of men and women from different times, places, and backgrounds. These pieces represent the inspirations, resilience, and legacies of these talented makers.

Armchair probably by enslaved artisans working in the Monticello Joinery, Albemarle County, Virginia, 1790-1815. Cherry, linen, tow, hair, leather, and brass. Museum Purchase, 1994-107.
Quilt by Arlonzia Pettway, Gee’s Bend, Alabama, ca. 1975. Cotton, polyester. Museum Purchase, Dr. and Mrs. T. Marshall Hahn, Jr. Fund. 2008.609.11.
Jug by David Drake, Edgefield, South Carolina, 1842. Alkaline-glazed stoneware. Museum Purchase. 2021.900.24.
Logging Tiger – Invention of the Chainsaw by Thornton Dial, Bessemer, Alabama, 1993. Watercolor on paper. Gift of Dr. and Mrs. T. Marshall Hahn, Jr. 1996.301.1.