House Party: R.S.V.P. B.Y.O.B.

April 22 through July 16, 2022

House Party: R.S.V.P. B.Y.O.B. is an exhibition of historical and contemporary artwork gathered together at White Hall plantation for a celebration by curator, artist, and scholar Michael J. Bramwell. Most of the artists at this party would have been excluded from the festivities in this dining room, or otherwise reduced to a service capacity, as cooks, maids, or servers. But now, they all bring gifts of textiles and ceramics, paintings and sculptures, to interrogate one of the most traumatic periods in American history. The original “big house” built at White Hall Plantation in Berkeley County, South Carolina, in 1818 does not survive; but the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA) has preserved the dining room’s interior woodwork, which is itself the product of enslaved master craftsmen. Each invited guest arrives with their unique bags of institutional critique to examine the material and cultural legacies of plantation slavery, while commemorating their ancestors in the process. Please join them, but remember: there’s much more at stake at this party than having a good time.

Honoring Ancestors

Interrogating History

Shaping the Future

Checklist of Works

About the Curator

For the Media

House party is made possible by generous grants from the Chipstone Foundation, the Wunsch Americana Foundation, and the Jessie Ball duPont Foundation.

Image credit: Portraits by 19th century Baltimore Black artist Joshua Johnson hang above works by contemporary artists David Hammons and Todd Johnson which are paired with Charleston, South Carolina, silver from the workshops of John Ewan (tea service) and Alexander Petrie (salver) atop a Baltimore, Maryland, sideboard attributed to the workshop of Edward Priestly. Works by Hammons on loan courtesy of the Hudgins Family Collection, New York and the collection of Nicolas Rohatyn and Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn, New York. Sideboard on loan from Colonial Williamsburg. Everything else collection of the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts at Old Salem.