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Back in 1859, the brothers Cornwall and Wallace Kirkpatrick opened a pottery factory in Anna Illinois. The Kirkpatricks had located a source of Kaolin clay north of Jonesboro that was perfect for making fine stoneware that would soon be the raw material for a thriving business.
But it wasn't just the fine light brown clay that would assure their success. Moreover, it was the creative genius that transformed the squishy clay into surprisingly earthy figures of frogs, snakes and pigs that tell us a lot about the era and its politics through their imaginative use of symbolism and irony.
Over they years their creations have been recognized as not just novel stoneware but as highly coveted and extremely collectable pieces of art. Just Google Anna Pottery and you'll see a thriving trade for these items as people pay thousands and thousands of dollars to own one of these unique treasures.
Anna Pottery is all over the internet, but you don't have to pay a king's ransom to learn more this distinctly regional slice of history. Debby Whitlatch visited two museums in our area that feature collections of Anna pottery and found some people who were very eager to talk about it.
Each collection is very different but when taken together, they portray a fascinating picture of a once thriving industry that helped put Anna Illinois on the map as the birthplace of a truly American form of artistic expression.
Host: Debby Whitlatch
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