The Clay Studio to break ground on new facility next week

The Clay Studio
PHOTO: Provided 

It was recently announced that The Clay Studio will break ground on a new state-of-the-art ceramic facility next week on Jan. 15 at 11 am. The new facility in South Kensington will help propel the nonprofit organization forward as a national leader in ceramics and will also serve as a mecca for local residents and artists in the City of Brotherly Love.  

The Clay Studio to break ground on new facility next week

“This is a defining moment, and together we are making a big dream a reality,” Executive Director Jennifer Martin said in a release. “We have always believed that art changes lives, that people of all ages and backgrounds can discover and nurture their individuality through clay. And when people give voice to their creativity, they, in turn, give voice to their communities.”

The Clay Studio first started in Old City in 1974 with only five artists on their roster, fast forward to the present day, and you’ll find an impressive number of artists, teachers, and professional staff serving Philadelphia with a colorful multitude of classes, exhibitions, events, and The Claymobile community engagement program. 

According to the release, the $13.7 million capital campaign for next week’s groundbreaking will expand its services and spaces by 67 percent, paving the way for unlimited new possibilities for studio art, arts education, and community engagement. The expansion is also hoped to deepen relationships between The Clay Studio and the South Kensington community. 

“With something like this in the neighborhood, I think there are quite a few opportunities for kids, and not just to become artists,” said a former Head Start teacher in the neighborhood in the release. “Art and music are wonderful ways to get young children interested in education.”

The new building’s design also helps strengthen that transparent relationship with an intentionally open and publicly accessible ground floor, dedicated classrooms for after-school youth programs, new spaces for year-round public events, and new headquarters for The Claymobile program. Also included in the designs are larger classrooms, state-of-the-art studios, an outdoor sculpture garden, and new gallery spaces. 

The mission to connect artists and the community will also be a central theme in the inaugural exhibition at The Clay Studio’s new home. According to the release, “Making Place Matter” opening in the spring of 2021 will be a major exhibition, symposium, and publication, funded by a Project Grant from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. The exhibition is organized around the complex and contemporary meaning of place and identity in today’s social conversation and will feature works from talented artists such as Kukuli Velarde, Molly Hatch, and Ibrahim Said. “Making Place Matter” will also coincide with the opening of a new community space, the Visitor Engagement Gallery, where Philadelphians can personally respond to the art they see in the gallery. 

“I am proud and thankful beyond words,” added Martin in the release. “Only a few short years ago our Board of Directors, together with the South Kensington community, artists, and patrons, embarked on a $13.7 million capital campaign, and we’ve been working with a team of architects, designers, and builders to create the best possible facility we could imagine. Community is what began and sustained The Clay Studio for 45 years, and community is what will make our new building a home.”

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