Enfilade

Resource | Black Craftspeople Digital Archive

Posted in on site, resources by Editor on December 17, 2021

Peter Bentzon, Teapot, 1817–29, Philadelphia, silver and wood (Washington, DC: Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, 2010.14). Born in the early 1780s in the West Indies, Peter Bentzon was a free man of color. He apprenticed as a silversmith in Philadelphia and then traveled to St. Croix where he opened his own silver shop. In 1817, Bentzon returned to Philadelphia and continued to work as an independent silversmith.

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Press release (14 December 2021) from The Decorative Arts Trust:

The Decorative Arts Trust is pleased to announce that the Black Craftspeople Digital Archive (BCDA) has been named the 2021 recipient of the Prize for Excellence and Innovation.

Founded in 2019, the BCDA brings together scholars, students, museums, and archives professionals and the public to collaborate and spread the story of Black craftspeople. To date, blackcraftspeople.org includes archival information and a searchable map with information about 960 black craftspeople involved in 45 trades in the South.

The BCDA originally began as a project by Dr. Tiffany Momon, inspired by her research into John ‘Quash’ Williams, an enslaved and later free Black master carpenter responsible for the carpentry and joinery work on the c. 1750 Charles Pinckney Mansion in Charleston, South Carolina. Tiffany now serves as the BCDA Founder and Co-Director with Dr. Torren Gatson as BCDA’s Co-Director and Publications and Special Projects Director.

Prize funding will support the BCDA Object Database, which will provide scholarship documenting the ancestry, historical timelines, and narratives of these craftspeople within the context of the larger decorative arts field.

The BCDA Instagram account is available here»

In addition to the BCDA’s award, The Trust was able to provide funding to two other finalists. Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens will receive a grant to underwrite the stipend of a research fellowship for the William J. Hill Texas Artisans and Artists Archive devoted to seeking objects that represent a broader range of the state’s cultural history. The Historic Albany Foundation will receive a grant to develop a series of workshops with the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands as part of the preservation and adaptive reuse of the Van Ostrande-Radliff House.

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The Decorative Arts Trust Prize for Excellence and Innovation was established in 2019 to recognize scholarly endeavors to advance the public’s appreciation of decorative arts, fine arts, architecture, or landscape design. The Trust is eager to highlight a broad range of projects–by no means restricted to digital database projects–and encourages institutions pursuing innovative initiatives of all types to submit nominations, which are accepted through June 30 annually.

The Decorative Arts Trust is a non-profit organization that promotes and fosters the appreciation and study of the decorative arts through exchanging information through domestic and international programming; collaborating and partnering with museums and preservation organizations; and underwriting internships, research grants, and scholarships for graduate students and young professionals.

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