Face Jugs: A Southern Tradition

Face Jug by Lanier Meaders, Mossy Creek, GA. Photo by Addison Doty/MOIFA


  • John Burrison Presents History Of This Southern Tradition Followed By Mike Craven’s Face Jug Demonstration

SANTA FE Face jugs of the American South are the subject of a two-part public program 1-4 p.m. Sunday, March 22 at the The Museum of International Folk Art (MOIFA).

The programs are in conjunction with the museum’s current exhibition Pottery of the U.S. South: A Living Tradition. Both events are by museum admission. New Mexico residents with ID are free Sundays.

The face jug is now an icon of Southern folk art. Jugs with sculpted human faces have been made for generations by traditional potters such as members of north Georgia’s Meaders and Hewell families. Where did the idea come from, and what meanings have they had to the makers and owners in the past and today?

The earliest Southern examples are from antebellum South Carolina, but were they continuing a pottery tradition brought from the Old World, or are they a uniquely American ceramic expression?

John Burrison. Courtesy/MOIFA

John Burrison’s illustrated talk, “Face Jugs: Southern Tradition, Human Impulse,” will explore possible sources as well as the living tradition of face jugs, and place the Southern examples within a global framework, suggesting that humanoid vessels are virtually universal among clay-working societies.

His lecture is 1 p.m. in the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture Kathryn O’Keeffe Theatre. Immediately following the lecture, walk across Milner Plaza to the Museum of International Folk Art’s Atrium, where potter Mike Craven will demonstrate how to make a face jug.


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