The Portal to Texas History 2023 Research Fellowship Awardee - Ashley E. Williams
The Portal to Texas History 2023 Research Fellowship Awardee
Ashley E. Williams
Clay, Salt, and Fire: The Wilson Potters of Guadalupe County, Texas
This dissertation chapter examines unfree artistic labor in Texas via the stories of Hiram, James, and Wallace Wilson—enslaved potters who crafted elegant stoneware vessels in the 1860s. In their very form and materiality these ceramics embodied conflicts of land, agency, and personhood under slavery and settler colonialism. This case study also turns to the period after Emancipation, when the potters founded their own successful H. Wilson & Company pottery: the first Black-owned business in Texas.
Ashley is a PhD candidate in art history at Columbia University. She has contributed to exhibitions at the National Gallery of Art, the Blanton Museum of Art, the Wallach Art Gallery, and Bard Graduate Center Gallery. Ashley’s research has been supported by the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, the Decorative Arts Trust, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and the Texas State Historical Association. She will be a 2023-2024 fellow at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. She was born and raised in Austin, Texas.