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Memphis exhibits highlights African American blacksmiths

This exhibits details key moments from artisans of West and Central Africa to Memphis today.
Credit: Meka Wilson

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — From Artisans to Artists : African American Metal Workers in Memphis, is a new exhibit that opened June 26 at the Metal Museum.

This exhibit was curated by Dr. Earnestine Jenkins, historian of visual culture and professor at University of Memphis.

This exhibit details the role of African American blacksmiths and how their practices and artisan identity changed in America due to slavery.

"Among those metal workers featured are the enslaved blacksmiths of two local plantation sites, the Hunt Phelan House and the Hilderbrand Plantation; blacksmiths and entrepreneurs Blair Hunt and David Carnes; and contemporary artists Richard Hunt, Lorenzo Scruggs, Hawkins Bolden, and Desmond Lewis," says the Metal Museum description of the exhibition. 

"From Artisans to Artists draws on the knowledge and research of guest curator Dr. Earnestine Jenkins, who utilizes surviving artifacts and primary source documents from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean to bring to the forefront a crucial part of Memphis’s artistic history."

The Hawkins Boldens pieces were provided to the Metal Museum from the Shrine Gallery, located in New York City.

The opening reception for “From Artisans to Artists” is happening today from 3-5PM. The exhibition is in the main...

Posted by Metal Museum on Sunday, June 26, 2022

"The metal pieces from Cameroon in the first section of the exhibit are Courtesy of the Art Museum of the University of Memphis, while the Brass Leopard from Nigeria is Courtesy of the Robert Bain Collection, Joysmith Gallery", said Jennifer Godwin, Communications Manager.

From Artisans to Artists : African American Metal Workers in Memphis, is on display until September 11.

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