Women, Art, and Social Change:

The Newcomb Pottery Enterprise

Vase, c. 1931. Low relief of stylized Pitcher plant.

Vase, c. 1931. Low relief of stylized Pitcher plant. Aurelia Arbo, decorator; Jonathan B. Hunt, potter. Collection of the Haynie Family.


Friday, October 9, 2015 to Sunday, January 3, 2016

This exhibition explores the production of one of the most significant American art potteries of the 20th century, Newcomb Pottery, whose works are a graceful union of form and decoration inspired by the flora and fauna of the Gulf South. Each piece is one-of-a-kind — and collectively they create a distinctive southern art form.

In 1895, the H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College, Tulane University’s women’s coordinate college, established the Newcomb Pottery in New Orleans, and conceived it as part artist collective, part social experiment, and part business enterprise initiative under the auspices of an educational program. The art school faculty incorporated the philosophies and tenets of the English Arts and Crafts movement into their curriculum to teach Southern women self-reliance by way of an education and gain financial independence through the sale of their wares. The Pottery thrived until 1940. Despite their progressive views about the benefits of education for women, Newcomb College and Tulane were like many other institutions of their time period. Neither opened their doors to African American students until 1963.

Today these remarkable, distinctive art objects continue to be critically acclaimed and highly sought-after, and the Newcomb program is a rich mine for academic research. Women, Art, and Social Change: The Newcomb Pottery Enterprise showcases a striking collection of Newcomb pottery, metalwork, bookbinding, and textiles with text that draws from new scholarship to explore the history of the Pottery and its importance as a social and artistic experiment.

Women Art and Social Change: The Newcomb Pottery Enterprise is organized by the Newcomb Art Gallery at Tulane University and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. The exhibition is supported by grants from the Henry Luce Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, Artworks.

Exhibition Organizers

  1. Smithsonian
  2. Newcomb Art Gallery
  3. Tulane University

EXHIBITION SEASON SPONSORS: City of Jacksonville; Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville, Inc.; The Cummer Council; Robert D. and Isabelle T. Davis Endowment at The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida; The Schultz Family Endowment

EXHIBITION SPONSORS: The Director's Circle at the Cummer Museum; FOCUS Cummer; Carl S. Swisher Foundation, Inc.; U.S. Trust; Wells Fargo

IN-KIND SPONSORS: Agility Press, Inc.; Wingard Creative

PROGRAM SPONSORS: Abbot Downing - Concert Series; Florida Blue - Florida Blue Free Tuesdays; VyStar Credit Union - Tapas Tuesdays; J. Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver - Weaver First Saturday Free for All; Woodcock Foundation for the Appreciation of the Arts, Inc. - Talks & Tea Lecture Series; W.W. Gay - Women of Vision