Artist’s talk, arts awards highlight Johnson Center event
Published 3:00 am Thursday, October 30, 2014
Dr. Robert Gilliam admits that he is not an artist but he loves art.
As a face jug collector art, Gilliam told those gathered for the Artist’s Talk at the Johnson Center for the Art Wednesday that he might be thought of as a little peculiar.
“I looked up the meaning of peculiar and it means strange, odd, bazaar, unusual and I thought that might apply to me,” Gilliam said laughing.
While odd, strange or whatever term is used to describe face jugs and, perhaps, even those who collect them, Gilliam said the history of face jugs is fascinating.
“Face Jug” is a term coined by historians that refer to an African American pottery type created in the second half of the 19th century, in the midst of slavery, around Edgefield South Carolina.
“The first face jugs were made by African slaves,” Gilliam said. “It is believed the face jug art was influenced by the slave culture including, both voodoo and Christian.”
“Slaves were not allowed to have gravestones, so face jugs were often used to decorate graves. The ugly faces where thought to scare the devil away.”
“Face jugs had utilitarian use such as churns and vessels to carry water and sometimes, moonshine,” Gilliam said. “The ugly jugs would keep children away.”
Although face jug art is peculiar or whimsical or downright ugly, Gilliam said it is nonetheless art and all art is about the soul of the artist.
“Theodore Dreiser said art is the stored honey of the human soul and that is evident in face jug art,” he said.
The winners of the Johnson Center’s Face Jug Fright Art Award attended the Artist’s Talk and Gilliam encouraged the students to continue their artwork and to be passionate about it.
“All art comes from the soul,” he said. “Whether you do art or collect art be passionate about what you do.”
Vicki Pritchett, Johnson Center executive director, said Gilliam’s talk was perfectly designed for an artist’s talk. She expressed appreciation to him for enlightening members of the community on face jug art and for a very inspiring talk.
“We can’t all be artists but we can all be knowledgeable about the different kinds of art,” Pritchett said. “Those who attended Dr. Gilliam’s talk know more about face jug art and are better able to understand and appreciate it.”
Pritchett offered congratulations to the winners of the Face Jug Fright Arts Award and to the teachers who encouraged and motivated students to enter their artwork.
“All schools in Pike County were invited to participate in the Face Jug Fright Art Competition,” she said. “We had students from the elementary, middle and high schools in Troy, Pike County High School, Pike Liberal Arts and Covenant Christian as well as home schooled students.”
Brandon Cain, Charles Henderson Middle School, won Best of Show and his teacher, Jennifer Sullivant, received a $50 donation for art supplies for her classroom.
The winners in grades K-3 were: First place, Auburn Woodard, Covenant Christian; second place, Bella Casey, Covenant Christian; and third, Lola Drinkwater, Covenant Christian.
Winners in grades 4-6 were: First place, Hanna Broaderway, Troy Elementary School; second place, Shayla Nguyen, TES; and third, Gracie Sneed, TES.
Grades 7-9 winners were: First place, Brandon Cain, Charles Henderson Middle School; second place, Holt Steed, PLAS; and third place, Ava Smolcic, Charles Henderson Middle School.
The winners in grades 10-12 were: First place, Alex McLendon, Charles Henderson High School; second place, Lizzie Orlofsky, CHHS; and, third, Kelsey Foster, CHHS.
In the pottery division of the Face Jug Fight Art competition, first place was awarded to Taylor Hamlin, home school, Day Barnes’ art class; second place, Madelyn Montgomery, home school; and third Andrew Dixon, Covenant Christian.