Winter Fair Lecture: Neat and Simple Elegance: Moravian Decorative Arts in North Carolina 1753-1850

Saturday, December 29, 2018 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM James. A Gray Auditorium

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Neat and Simple Elegance: Moravian Decorative Arts in North Carolina 1753-1850
Johanna Brown, Curator of Moravian Decorative Arts

Eighteenth and nineteenth century visitors to the Moravian town of Salem, North Carolina, often remarked on the physical and cultural distinctiveness of this isolated backcountry community. The industry of the residents, the operation of a pseudo-guild system within the congregation town, and the deeply religious nature of the settlers fascinated outsiders who were encouraged to visit and shop –but not live or work—within the carefully controlled theocracy. The governing boards of the Church certainly influenced the ways artisans worked, the setting of prices and wages, and the interaction of tradesmen with outsiders. Yet, these boards did not dictate style. Moravian artists and artisans in North Carolina produced furniture, pottery, silver, textiles, paintings, and countless other decorative objects. This material reflects the cultural backgrounds of the Moravian settlers and their ultimate assimilation within the backcountry South giving rise to a distinct aesthetic marked by “neat and simple elegance.”