All About Tradition at Spruce Pine

TUSCUMBIA – Art & Tradition at Spruce Pine Pottery will be exhibited September 22 – November 1 at the Tennessee Valley Museum of Art, located at 511 N. Water St. in Tuscumbia. The exhibition represents the many potteries once found throughout Alabama. Thanks to Alabama pottery collector, Billy Weeks, this exhibition was made possible in time for our state’s bicentennial.

The symposium will take place from 10am-4pm September 21 at the museum. The symposium, Clay without Borders: The Historic Pottery of Northwest Alabama and Northeast Mississippi, is free and includes an optional lunch. Please call for reservations.

The symposium is called Clay without Borders because craftsmen and their families travelled throughout the mid-South area in the 19th and early 20th Century with little regard to state lines. They were making a living while sharing their skills and establishing regional pottery traditions.

Joey Brackner, Director of the Alabama Center for Traditional Culture, said the story of Spruce Pine Pottery displays the end of the small traditional family pottery and the rise of art pottery.

“The Spruce Pine Pottery exhibit presents many new pottery forms and techniques developed by southern potters to attract customers in the early 20th century,” according to Brackner. “Vases, statuary, and fancy decorated wares were added to the repertoire of small family potteries like Spruce Pine to make up for the declining sales of such items as stoneware storage jars, churns and chamber pots. In developing these products, these potters were able to continue to make a living with their hands as our country continued to industrialize.”

Brackner hopes that visitors learn about the history of Spruce Pine Pottery and that this exhibit makes history.

“I think this exhibit is so special because it is a great effort to present locally made art in an area museum,” Brackner said. “Additionally, new information developed during this project will help researchers in Mississippi and Arkansas as they document their own state’s history. We are so excited that some of these Mississippi pottery researchers will present at the symposium.”