Henry D. Green Symposium highlights Georgia history

Submitted by Catherine Long

The Seventh Biennial Henry D. Green Symposium of the Decorative Arts was held Thursday, January 30 through Saturday, February 1 at the University of Georgia Hotel and Conference Center. The theme of the 2014 program was Connections: Georgia in the World. This program is organized by the Georgia Museum of Art and featured a wonderful slate of presentations from a variety of disciplines. The museum also had many publications by scholars of the decorative arts community for sale and the attendees enjoyed perusing these works and adding them to their libraries.

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Attendees had the opportunity to visit several of Athens historic properties that included the Church-Waddel-Brumby House, the Taylor Grady, House, the T.R.R. Cobb House, and the Ware-Lyndon House. The Georgia Museum of Art hosted an opening reception and invited guests to visit the fine exhibits and collections.

The lectures were presented in the Georgia Center’s Mahler Hall and the topics included fashion, textiles, pottery, fashion design, and more. Of specific interest to supporters of Georgia archaeology was Dan Elliott’s (President, The Lamar Institute) presentation on utilitarian earthernwares from the Ebenezer settlement in Effingham County, Georgia. He showed different areas where excavations revealed the coarse earthenware and how the percentages differed between the diverse locations. There are three individuals who may be responsible for producing these wares and they hope to learn more about who was producing these wares which features a variety of creampans and other pieces.

Clemson University Associate Professor of Art History, Andrea Feeser presented on Colonial Indigo Culture of South Carolina and the roles of the myriad of groups of people who participated in its production, who wore the blue items and who purchased and or traded the items. Her research is based on her recently published book entitled Red, White, & Black Make Blue: Indigo in the Fabric of Colonial South Carolina Life. Using primary documents she highlights the roles of slaves who significantly contributed to the production of indigo and she also includes Eliza Lucas Pinckney and the indigo plantation histories that contributed to this significant part of South Carolina history.

Although the Keynote Speaker Ronald L. Hurst was delayed due to the winter weather he was able to attend and provide his delightful talk, “Southern Furniture Studies: Where We’ve Been, Where We’re Going,” and discussed the timeline of furniture studies and the importance of collaborations with other institutions to preserve furniture and other important decorative arts. By working together these significant parts of Georgia’s (and other states) rich material culture can be preserved for further research study and exhibition among diverse organizations. If you have not had the opportunity to attend this symposium it is highly recommended.