Thousands of images, texts, and audio/video from ECU's diverse collections and beyond.

Dwight M. Holland Ceramics Collection

Dwight Holland was a primary mover to bring art to the Asheboro area schools many years ago by becoming the first art teacher in their schools. Mr. Holland was also instrumental in establishing the Mooring Art Center in Asheboro which hosts the annual North Carolina Potter's Conference. Retired from a career as Curator of Design and Planner of the North Carolina Zoological Park, Mr. Holland returned to the Zoo as Interim Director for a year. He continues working during retirement by being involved with many national consultations on artificial habitats. His most recent project is the artificial rock outcropping in front of Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh.

In 1998, Dwight M. Holland of Asheboro, NC, approached the East Carolina University School of Art for the purpose of donating his extensive collection of pottery and contemporary ceramics. Mr. Holland's interest is to provide a "hands-on" experience to others with ceramic works that are ordinarily placed in "untouchable" museum collections. Since East Carolina University School of Art has a large studio ceramics program within North Carolina, the Dwight M. Holland Ceramics Teaching Collection is under development and is housed in Jenkins Fine Arts Center at ECU.

The online collection includes an assortment of master works from the teaching collection. Many of the Seagrove area works illustrate very simple and humble dirt dishes. Later Seagrove area examples include art ware which was made during Prohibition when pottery was shipped out on mule drawn carts. Contemporary pieces include ceramic artists from as far away as Russia and Estonia, and many famous American ceramists and potters.

Decorative Objects

Decorative ceramics works serve an ornamental purpose as opposed to pottery with functional uses. This category includes sculpture, vases, birdhouses, and elaborately embellished functional pottery. Some works are cross-referenced because of their functional and decorative potential.

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Pouring Vessels

These functional vessel types are used for pouring fluids. They include pitchers, teapots, and mixing vessels.

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Serving Vessels

Serving vessels are functional vessel types that are used for serving and displaying foods including cups, plates, and bowls.

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Storage Vessels

Storage vessels are also functional vessel types that are used for storage of materials, typically food, in lidded jars and jugs.

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Other Fuctional

Other functional include wares that are used for a variety of purposes including birdhouses, umbrella stands, and candleholders.

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Oral Histories

Recognizing the historical and cultural importance of pottery making in the Seagrove area, the Randolph Arts Guild in Asheboro, North Carolina, determined in 1982 to collect and record for future generations the history, methods, and techniques of the remaining traditional potters. The first part of the "Seagrove Potters Project" involved hiring a project coordinator to oversee the work and to conduct oral, taped interviews with potters known for their traditional methods.

These oral history interviews were begun in February 1983 and completed in August 1985. Fourteen individuals who were potters or had been closely connected to pottery making were singled out to be interviewed. Those chosen were Walter and Dorothy Auman, Waymon Cole, Nell Cole Graves, Harwood Graves, Charlie and Grady Craven, Jack Kiser, Joe and Ben Owen, Melvin Owens, Duck and Bessie Craven Teague, and Jim Teague. Ben Owen, suffering from poor health, died before he could be interviewed.

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Foreward by Michella A. Francis

Generations of families in rural Randolph and Moore counties have depended upon the red clay beneath their feet for their livelihood. These hard-working men and women "turned" as well as "tilled" the soil. They were potters and what they fashioned with their hands was both functional and beautiful.

There are men and women today who still employ the time-honored techniques of their fathers and grandfathers. Their story reflects not only the history of pottery in the area of Seagrove, North Carolina, but also a passing way of life. A new generation of potters has begun to sell their ware. Many of these young potters turned their first pot, not in a dim, dusty shed under the critical eye of their father, but in a brightly lit studio on the campus of a local technical institute or college. They bring to the craft a new set of skills and knowledge that threatens eventually to replace the traditional methods of making pottery.

Recognizing the historical and cultural importance of pottery making in the Seagrove area, the Randolph Arts Guild in Asheboro, North Carolina, determined in 1982 to collect and record for future generations the history, methods, and techniques of the remaining traditional potters. The first part of the "Seagrove Potters Project" involved hiring a project coordinator to oversee the work and to conduct oral, taped interviews with potters known for their traditional methods.

The oral history interviews were begun in February 1983 and completed in August 1985. Fourteen individuals who were potters or had been closely connected to pottery making were singled out to be interviewed. Those chosen were Walter and Dorothy Auman, Waymon Cole, Nell Cole Graves, Harwood Graves, Charlie and Grady Craven, Jack Kiser, Joe and Ben Owen, Melvin Owens, Duck and Bessie Craven Teague, and Jim Teague. Ben Owen, suffering from poor health, died before he could be interviewed.

The interviews, as a whole, focus on the lifetime of each potter, roughly spanning the decades from the 1920s through the 1970s.Earlier decades are recalled in the potters recitations of stories handed down from their fathers and grandfathers. The tapes of Walter and Dorothy Auman contain the greatest amount of historical data and reflect their many years of studying and collecting North Carolina pottery.

The essence of each potter's personality emerges from even the shortest of interviews. Therein lies, perhaps, the greatest value of these tapes, for the technical aspects of pottery making have been recorded by others in other projects, books, and articles.

Understanding the potter as an individual contributes greatly to the understanding of why pottery has existed in the Seagrove area for over 200 years. It has not been soley [solely] because of the availability of earthenware and stoneware clay, but in part, because of the shared sense of community among the potters manifested in their willingness to help one another in what is usually a competitive business.

The audio quality varies with each tape. Potters are seldom idle and so it sometimes was necessary to interview them while they were turning or glazing. The transcriptions, for the most part, are verbatim renderings of the interviews. Irrelevant interruptions by third parties have been deleted. Original sentence structure and grammer [grammar] have been preserved except for a few instances when changes were necessary in order to make the passage understandable.

The transcriptions were used as background material for the second phase of the Seagrove Potters Project--the video taping of the actual methods and techniques of each potter. The video tapings were conducted by staff members of the Office of Communications for the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, Raleigh, NC. Three excellent programs were produced on the Seagrove potters. The oral interviews, transcriptions, unedited video tapes, and the finished programs have been placed with the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources for archival Preservation and for use by researchers. Copies also are available in the Randolph Public Library, Asheboro, NC.

The Seagrove Potters Project would never have been successful without the unqualified support of the Randolph Arts Guild, in particular the enthusiastic leadership of Dwight Holland. A special thank-you also must go to each of the potters who participated in the project, but especially to Walter and Dorothy Auman whose patience and encouragement were of immeasurable help to the project coordinator.

Michelle A. Francis

Raleigh, North Carolina

October 1985