Friday, December 1, 2023

‘I made this’: Black Artists & Artisans Conference Coming to Williamsburg in November

(Colonial Williamsburg Foundation)

WILLIAMSBURG — Registration is open for Colonial Williamsburg’s “I made this”: Black Artists & Artisans Conference, an educational event dedicated to celebrating the craftsmanship and creativity of Black artists and artisans taking place Nov. 10-11 at the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg.

Participants have the option of attending in person or virtually.

According to CW, the conference aims to inspire attendees with a deep appreciation for the artistry, ingenuity, and dedication of Black artists and artisans from the 18th to the 20th centuries whose legacy endures to this day.

The title of the conference, as well as the corresponding exhibition currently on view at the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg, comes from a quote by 19th-century enslaved potter David Drake, CW said. Drake inscribed the words on several of his pots despite laws prohibiting literacy for enslaved people at that time.

“Colonial Williamsburg’s “I made this” conference illuminates the numerous, invaluable ways that enslaved and free Black people contributed to the creation of this nation through material culture,” said Ronald L. Hurst, the Foundation’s Carlisle Humelsine chief curator and senior vice president for education and historic resources. “Colonial Williamsburg, where the lives and work of 18th-century Black artists and artisans have been shared for decades, provides the perfect context for this exploration of history and culture.”

The conference will feature keynote lectures by guest speakers including:

  • Dr. Tiffany Momon, assistant professor at Sewanee: The University of the South, and founder and co-director of the Black Craftspeople Digital Archive.
  • Dr. Torren Gatson, assistant professor, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, co-director of the Black Craftspeople Digital Archive.
  • Michael Twitty, James Beard Award-winning author, historical interpreter and culinary historian.
  • Dr. Bernie Herman, George B. Tindall distinguished professor of southern studies and folklore at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Additional presentations and performances by Colonial Williamsburg historic interpreters, curators, and tradespeople will explore the historical significance of Black artisans and the contemporary relevance of their craftsmanship, CW said, and Behind-the-Scenes Tours will delve into the history of Colonial Williamsburg, with exclusive pre-conference, behind-the-scenes tours of exhibitions and historic buildings with curators and collaborators to learn more about the lives of enslaved and free Black tradespeople and domestic workers in 18th-century Williamsburg.

A culinary celebration is planned for in-person registration that includes a historically inspired opening reception and dinner on Friday evening. This collaboration between guest speaker Michael Twitty and Colonial Williamsburg interpretive and hospitality staff will give attendees the opportunity to experience history through food, CW said.

And, in collaboration with the Let Freedom Ring Foundation, conference attendees may purchase a ticket to the Let Freedom Ring Gala on Saturday, Nov. 11. All in-person attendees are also invited to gather at William & Mary’s Hearth: Memorial to the Enslaved on Sunday morning, Nov. 12, in partnership with The Lemon Project.

(Colonial Williamsburg Foundation)

CW announced the conference is also offering a low-cost registration fee of $200 for in-person attendance and $40 for virtual attendance, as well as scholarship opportunities, thanks to the generosity of The Americana Foundation. Scholarship applications are due by Sept. 15 and are available for students, museum professionals, educators and more. Applicants of all backgrounds, ages, and professions are encouraged to apply, CW said.

Registration for in-person and virtual attendance is open, but spaces are limited. To reserve a spot or find more information about the conference, visit

The “I made this” conference is supported by The Americana Foundation, Let Freedom Ring Foundation, and William & Mary’s The Lemon Project: A Journey of Reconciliation.

For additional information on Foundation offerings, follow Colonial Williamsburg on Facebook  and @colonialwmsburg on Twitter and Instagram.

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