Black Craftspeople Digital Archive Awarded Prize for Excellence and Innovation
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, SC. 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.
An event celebrating the BCDA’s receipt of the Prize is being planned for January 2022.
BCDA members Tiffany Momon (pictured) and Victoria Hensley traveled to Blount Mansion as part of a fieldwork trip through east Tennessee looking for buildings and locations associated with Black craftspeople.
Photograph of Charleston’s Pinckney Mansion c. 1860s, where John “Quash” Williams was enslaved and worked as a carpenter responsible for carpentry and joinery work. From Mathew Brady Photographs of Civil War-Era Personalities and Scenes, 1921-1940, Record Group 111: Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, 1860-1985. National Archives, 530426, 111-B-6359.
Peter Bentzon, Teapot, 1817-1829, Philadelphia, PA. Silver, wood. 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 opened a silver shop.
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.
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 Committee’s decision to award the Prize to digital database projects in 2020 and 2021 is not indicative of this award’s intent. The Trust is eager to highlight a broad range of projects in the future and encourages institutions pursuing innovative initiatives of all types to submit nominations, which are accepted through June 30 annually.
Please contact the Decorative Arts Trust by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 610.627.4970 for information about the Prize for Excellence and Innovation.
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Formerly known as the "blog,” the Bulletin features new research and scholarship, travelogues, book reviews, and museum and gallery exhibitions. The Bulletin complements The Magazine of the Decorative Arts Trust, our biannual members publication.