Mississippi produces potters like Italy produces saints, but at the top of the mudpile is the self-proclaimed “Mad Potter of Biloxi,” George E. Ohr.  Certainly, with his bugged eyes and his mustache wrapped around his head and tied in the back, this father of American Abstract-Expressionism looked the part.  Ohr, the son of a German blacksmith up from New Orleans, was born in Biloxi in 1857 and died there in 1918 after flingin’ 10,000 pots.
All Southern Originals don’t have the advanced case of eccentricity of George Ohr nor necessarily his celebrated creative gifts.  During his lifetime, folks thought he was crazy for asking $25, the equivalent of $500 today for his wildly experimental ceramics.  He may not have been twisted, but his art was.  Ohr pottery is a magical, mystical mashup of adventurous glazes and pinched, often asymmetrical forms.  George Ohr dug much of the clay he used from the same pottery pits originally used by native Mississippians.  At Southernness, we dig this Southern Original and would welcome him to make a mudpie in the Love Y’all Forever Cafe and day of the week and wouldn’t even require a mustache net.
The Ohr-OKeefe Museum of Art in Biloxi, designed to showcase a large collection of Ohr’s “madmud,” is a new work of art itself.  An imaginative cluster of pinched-form buildings comprise the museum campus designed by American “starchitect,” Frank Gehry.  Plan your trip beginning at
Y’all Be Y’all,
Ben South at Southernness


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