Chipstone
Exhibition Archives
Face Jug Poetry Slam


On June 24, 2012, the Milwaukee Art Museum hosted a poetry slam in conjunction with the Chipstone exhibit "Face Jugs: Art and Ritual in Nineteenth-Century South Carolina." Face vessels - typically jugs, and less commonly cups, pitchers, and jars - were produced by enslaved potters in the Edgefield district of South Carolina. These diminutive objects are in fact “conjure pots” that were used for casting spells. The origin of these designs may be linked to the 1858 arrival of several hundred enslaved African men, women, and children from the Kingdom of Kongo who were secretly brought to America aboard an illegal slave ship called the Wanderer. The practice of conjuring in the Edgefield region - presumably to cast spells on slave owners, among other things - was kept secret within African American communities. The local Milwaukee poets featured in this video perform their reactions to these startlingly potent symbols of resistance and cultural survival.