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Guest Editor’s Introduction: New Discoveries: The Ever-Expanding South
A. Nicholas Powers

The American South is a dynamic, ever-expanding place. Each year, museum curators and scholars discover previously unknown objects and uncover stories that change (or in some cases reinforce) our perspectives on the lives of early Southerners and their cultural traditions.

Long known for publishing groundbreaking research on the decorative, fine, folk and self-taught art, and material culture of the early South, MESDA is now providing a new platform for both emerging and established scholars. The “New Discoveries” feature of the MESDA Journal now provides museum professionals the opportunity to share short-form research notes highlighting significant new acquisitions and discoveries within their collections. Through the New Discoveries feature, the latest discoveries in southern culture will become available at the click of a button or the swipe of a screen.

Lea Lane’s accompanying article exploring the significance of a rare stoneware jug by French-émigré potter Augustin Marchal is the perfect introduction for the New Discoveries feature. One of only two known examples of the form produced in Marchal’s “BAMA-CITY” shop, the jug’s acquisition honors the decades-long research of Alabama ceramics historian and folklorist Joey Brackner. It also marks MESDA’s expansion into collecting objects representing the state of Alabama, the first state added to the museum’s mission since MESDA was founded in 1965. Lane explores the unique circumstances of Marchal’s arrival in early national Alabama, where he synthesized his family’s European tradition of tin-glazed earthenware production with Americans’ emerging demands for heartier stoneware forms.

Lane’s introductory article hopefully will be the first in a long series of New Discoveries features bringing old objects to new audiences. New Discoveries submissions should be between 500–1000 words and follow the MESDA Journal Style Manual. Accepted submissions will be included alongside longer-form articles released throughout the journal publication year. Please direct submissions and questions to me at [email protected] or (540) 662–1473, ext. 205. I look forward to working with you to share the new discoveries in southern decorative arts!


A. Nicholas (Nick) Powers

Museum of the Shenandoah Valley

[email protected]


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