The Clay Studio, a nonprofit organization, offers a variety of classes to keep ceramics alive.
While most people obsess over the art form that painted the “Mona Lisa” and the “Starry Night,” many have grown bored with the paintings and have dwelled in ceramics.
In 1974, the Clay Studio opened in Old City, with the intent of creating a place where ceramic arts was promoted and encouraged for the surrounding community.
“The Clay Studio is [still] Philadelphia’s only nonprofit dedicated to the education as well as nurturing of new and emerging ceramic artist,” Amy Williams, president of the Clay Studio, said.
“We are the best ceramics resources center not only in Philadelphia but the world,” Williams added.
She said the studio is actively engaged with other Philadelphia organizations such as the Philadelphia Young Playwrights and Musicopia and offers major education programs for all experience levels and all ages.
“There was a point when we understood we were here [for] more than working for ourselves,” Williams said. “We wanted to promote ceramic art and new work.”
Beyond the studio’s regularly scheduled classes, there are special programs such as date night and the popular Valentine’s Day night. The Clay Studio is in association with the First Friday events of Old City. The nonprofit aims to go beyond Philadelphia and spread its influence around the world.
“Over the years, ceramics have been seen as a decorative art form and has had somewhat of a lower status in the art world, however, these barriers are breaking,” Williams said. “Some of the best ceramic artists from around the world come to practice their art form [here].”
With the help of the studio’s guest artist program, a ceramic artist from Thailand was able to visit.
“Through this experience the artist gets to experience something different as well as educating us on what is going on in their own country,” Williams said.
Before its worldly endeavors, in 1994 the nonprofit created the Claymobile to spread its love of ceramics around the city.
This outreach program partnered with schools, community based organizations and social-service agencies in the greater Philadelphia area bringing ceramic classes to some of the most under-serviced communities.
“I would encourage people to just try it,” Jennifer Martin, the Clay Studio’s education director, said. “They will appreciate the time and effort it takes to create a piece and we have a lot of programs that encourage this.”
With the input of various artists and coordinators, the program has evolved and expanded its reach to deaf students, children in the juvenile justice system, the formerly homeless and leaning disabled adults.
Jannett Felton, a student at the clay studio and professional graphic designer said her love for the specific art form is practically indescribable.
“I think my love for ceramic art is hard to explain,” Felton said. “It’s three dimensional.”
Felton came to the Clay Studio when she recognized no other studio dedicated itself solely to the ceramic art form.
There are currently 40 local artists working at the studio hoping to serve the community by spreading their love of ceramic.
“Ceramic arts is changing,” Williams said. “It’s becoming less about the ideas and more what the artist are trying to express.”
Priscilla Ward can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.