Charleston Style and Design

FALL 2015

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C U R R E N T S P R O F I L E 124 CSD Suzanne Findlen Hood is the curator of ceramics and glass at Colonial Williamsburg. She is co-author, with Janine Skerry, of Salt-Glazed Stoneware in Early America, winner of the American Ceramic Circle Book Award for 2009. Her most recent exhibi- tion, China of the Most Fashionable Sort: Chinese Export Porcelain in Colonial America, is currently on view at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum in Colonial Williamsburg. Hood's presen- tation of the same title will be part of the Drayton Hall Distinguished Speakers Series at South Carolina Society Hall on October 15. You're a curator in a feld that holds enormous fascination for readers. What frst drew you to ceramics and glass? It wasn't until I was working on my master's degree in Early American Material Culture at Winterthur that I really began to focus on ceramics and glass. Part of my fascination with dishes is that I love food. In my quest to understand the people of the past it seemed only natural that I would gravitate to the ceramic and glass objects that they used for dining and drinking. What does your work entail? I research ceramic and glass objects that are currently in our collection for use in exhibitions at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum. I work with colleagues to furnish historic buildings with antique objects to create as historically accurate an environ- ment as possible. What do you like most about what you do? I love to make history come alive, and I think objects are a wonderful way to do that. I can use one object, such as a teacup, to illustrate 18th-century trade networks, dining customs, fash- ion and technology. People get excited about that—even those who didn't think they'd be inter- ested. This gives me great joy. You're an alumna of the Attingham Trust's program to study British houses and their collections. How did that experience shape your under- standing? The most eye-opening thing about the Attingham Summer School was how different the furnishings of the English coun- try houses were from American houses of the same period. Colonial American taste was dramatically shaped by English goods. In 18th-century Colonial America the most fashion- able ceramics were English or Chinese. In England, French decorative arts appear to have been to the English aristocracy what high-style English goods were to the wealthy in the colonies. We saw lots of Sèvres and some Meissen. However, what was similar was a desire to express one's wealth and status through an opulent display of architecture and furnishings. How were ceramics and glass produced during this time, and how did they make their way to the colonies? Colonial Americans were required to purchase the majority of their manufactured goods from England, so almost all the dishes imported into the English colonies were made in England. Smaller numbers came from what is now Germany and China. Tell us your impression of the 27 objects from Drayton Hall currently on exhibit at Colonial Williamsburg. The porcelain from Drayton Hall is varied and quite MAKING HISTORY COME ALIVE BY MARY K. LOVE suzanne hood talks about her passion for ceramics

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