Connecting through clay

The Clay Studio celebrated the grand opening of their new location in South Kensington.

Members of The Clay Studio cut the ribbon at the grand opening of their new location. | GRACIE HEIM / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Cheers echoed across North American Street Saturday morning as Jennifer Martin, executive director of The Clay Studio, cut the ribbon, symbolizing the nonprofit’s fresh start in the emerging art community of South Kensington. 

Community members and artists gathered in South Kensington for the grand opening of The Clay Studio on April 9, celebrating their new home after residing in Old City for more than 30 years.

Attendees toured the facility and its exhibitions, met artists and participated in art projects, which included creating their own ceramic tiles.

“It’s a wonderful, wonderful experience,” said Neil McLaughlin, a board member. “Who knew the building would be here and who knew people would follow us from Old City into South Kensington?” 

The studio plans to host an afterschool program for children and more opportunities for families to exercise their creativity now that they have increased studio and classroom spaces, said Jennifer Zwilling, curator and director of artistic programs at The Clay Studio. 

“By having The Clay Studio here you’re really opening it up to the community and to people that maybe wouldn’t have the chance to take certain art classes and come here to create, especially ceramics because that is an even smaller niche that is getting cut from schools,” said Estefany Rodriguez, an attendee and art teacher at Pennsauken High School.

Zwilling always had intentions to build trust with the community and involve South Kensington in the process of The Clay Stuido’s relocation, which started nearly 10 years ago.

“We felt we could become part of an already vibrant community, but it really was about coming into this community where we could be part of what was already happening and also connect with the neighborhood,” Zwilling said.

The Clay Studio focuses on building connections between people and clay as the art requires community and teamwork from learning to sculpting to firing.

“It’s so community based, especially ceramics because it’s something you almost can’t practice on your own, just because there’s definitely a sense of community to the process,” said Shelby Reed, a bachelor of fine arts in ceramics major at Temple University and The Clay Studio intern.

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