Innovative American Arts and Crafts Pottery Collective is Chronicled in Comprehensive, Engrossing Exhibition


Women, Art and Social Change: The Newcomb Pottery Enterprise will be on view at the Princeton University Art Museum from May 7 through July 10, 2016

PRINCETON, NJ--The Newcomb Pottery forged a distinctly Southern brand of the American Arts and Crafts movement and is considered one of the most significant makers of American art pottery of the 20th century, both critically acclaimed and highly coveted. Established in 1895, Newcomb Pottery was a pioneering educational experiment focused on training young women to support themselves financially by designing, producing and selling handcrafted art objects. Housed within Newcomb College (Tulane University’s former women’s college) in New Orleans, Newcomb Pottery was active as an artistic-commercial venture from its inception until the 1940s.

Women, Art and Social Change: The Newcomb Pottery Enterprise represents half a century of inventive achievement in the decorative arts and features more than 100 objects, including the iconic pottery for which the Newcomb women became best known as well as lesser known textiles, metalwork, jewelry, graphic arts and bookbinding. It is the largest and most comprehensive national exhibition of Newcomb Pottery in nearly three decades, and the one-of-a-kind objects on display offer insight into the extraordinary women who made a lasting contribution to American art and design. The Smithsonian traveling exhibition will be on view at the Princeton University Art Museum from May 7 through July 10, 2016. The exhibition is coordinated at Princeton by Martin Eidelberg, professor emeritus of art history at Rutgers University, and Karl Kusserow, Princeton’s John Wilmerding Curator of American Art.

“Themes of innovation and self-actualization ring throughout this rapturous exhibition of richly designed objects,” said James Steward, Nancy A. Nasher–David J. Haemisegger, Class of 1976, Director. “The exhibition builds on Princeton’s leadership role in this field, including Robert Judson Clark’s game changing 1972 exhibition, The Arts and Crafts Movement in America, 1876–1916, considered the key event in the Arts and Crafts revival.”

Like its British forebear, the American Arts and Crafts movement eschewed industrial production, instead privileging objects made by hand with quality materials and a regional sensibility. Best known for their classic motifs inspired by the exotic flora and fauna of the Gulf South—particularly the iconic moss-draped live oak in moonlight that became a calling card of the workshop—Newcomb Pottery artists eventually branched out to embrace modernism and abstraction. However, the best-selling works employed designs that evoked the mystery and romanticism of the Southern landscape. The exhibition is presented both chronologically and by medium, showing how the Newcomb enterprise evolved in response to practical considerations and changes in taste during the varied years of its operation.

Accompanying the exhibition is a 340-page hardcover publication entitled The Arts and Crafts of Newcomb Pottery, which includes essays by Sally Main, former senior curator at the Newcomb Art Museum, and other American art history and decorative arts scholars in addition to a timeline, artist biographies and vibrant new photography of 250 remarkable Newcomb Pottery objects.

Women, Art, and Social Change: The Newcomb Pottery Enterprise is organized by the Newcomb Art Museum at Tulane University and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and is supported in part by the Henry Luce Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. The exhibition at Princeton has been made possible by the Frances E. and Elias Wolf, Class of 1920, Fund; the Kathleen C. Sherrerd Program Fund for American Art; and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support has been provided by the Allen R. Adler, Class of 1967, Exhibitions Fund; the Curtis W. McGraw Foundation; and the Friends of the Princeton University Art Museum.

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About the Princeton University Art Museum

With a collecting history that extends back to the 1750s, the Princeton University Art Museum is one of the leading university art museums in the country, with collections that have grown to include over 92,000 works of art ranging from ancient to contemporary art and spanning the globe.

Committed to advancing Princeton’s teaching and research missions, the Art Museum also serves as a gateway to the University for visitors from around the world. Intimate in scale yet expansive in scope, the Museum offers a respite from the rush of daily life, a revitalizing experience of extraordinary works of art and an opportunity to delve deeply into the study of art and culture.

The Princeton University Art Museum is located at the heart of the Princeton campus, a short walk from the shops and restaurants of Nassau Street. Admission is free. Museum hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday 1 to 5 p.m. The Museum is closed Mondays and major holidays.

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