Radio Chipstone: Bringing Ancient Craftsmen to Life

Feb 17, 2018

When was the last time you picked up an object and wondered about the person who made it? What do they look like? Where are they from? These questions become even more important when the legacy of artist or craftsperson is lost to history, or was never recorded in the first place.

Milwaukee artist Mutópe Johnson is charged with bringing ancestral African American Craftsmen to life. The Dave Project: Exploring African-American Material Culture, is part of the Chipstone Foundation collection at the Milwaukee Art Museum.

"What I wanted to do was to place that object in the right setting and sort of recreate a setting that was able to have this iconography that spoke to imagine the place where they actually made it," explains Johnson.

The focus of the exhibit is nineteenth-century African American makers of ceramics and furniture. In this edition of Radio Chipstone, contributor Gianofer Fields asks Johnson about the tools he used to give the craftsmen faces and to create a sense of place:

Material culture contributor Gianofer Fields curates the Radio Chipstone series. The project is funded by the Chipstone Foundation, a decorative arts foundation whose mission is preserving and interpreting their collection, as well as stimulating research and education in the decorative arts.