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From mud to masterpiece: Ceramics program introduces kids, adults to creative clay expression

By KATE SNYDER

Community Arts Center

Sammy Cusato didn’t set out to create a ceramic duck mask. The mask part was intentional — it was the assigned project one week in Kids Pottery at the Community Arts Center.

But the duck? That identity evolved during its creation.

“I rolled out the clay and cut a circle for the face,” says Sammy, a sixth-grader at Bate Middle School. “Then the leftover piece of clay looked like a duck bill, so I went with it!”

That sort of creative improvisation is one of the hallmarks of ceramics instruction at the Arts Center — and one of the reasons parents find ceramics classes appealing for their children. Carol Taylor’s daughter Mayme is also enrolled in the class.

“Mayme is exploring a process in art that is allowing her imagination to run free,” says Taylor. “In ceramics she needs to use many of the 21st century skills like problem solving, risk taking, and creativity. And most of all it’s just plain fun!”

Thanks to a grant from the Corning Incorporated Foundation, the Arts Center has been able to expand its youth ceramics program this fall.

Randy Miller, Supply Chain Manager at Corning Incorporated in Harrodsburg and a local representative of the Corning Incorporated Foundation says, “The Foundation grant is the result of input received from a committee of employees from the Corning Harrodsburg facility including Corning management. All who were involved in the decision to offer assistance to the Community Arts Center felt that the Youth Ceramics Program would provide a unique hands-on opportunity for young children to broaden their horizons, enhance their motor skills, and help to develop their creative expression. As the only organization in the region to offer this instruction to the public, we felt it important to help the Arts Center expand its reach with this initiative.”

The Arts Center is the only organization outside of Lexington to offer community ceramics classes.

The grant from the Corning will allow the Arts Center to offer more youth ceramics classes and to incorporate clay exploration into their community outreach programming and field trip curriculum.

But it’s not just kids who spend their time in the ceramics studio — the Arts Center offers regular adult ceramics classes throughout the year.

In the Thursday evening Wheel-Throwing class, students learn the basics of throwing pots on an electric wheel, then have an opportunity to fire their pieces in a wood-fired kiln on instructor Jonas Hurley’s farm. Students in a new Tuesday evening Ceramics Sampler class explore a variety of techniques that include wheel-throwing, hand-building, and slip-casting.

Current student Lu Carlson says, “I really liked the Ceramics Sampler class. I took two semesters of ceramics in college and really enjoyed myself.  I was excited to have the chance to play and build with clay again.  It has such a wonderful texture, and I love making pretty or strange-looking things, as well as presents for people I care about.  I’m not very good at ceramics, but I derive great satisfaction from it nonetheless! I’m glad I took the sampler because I got to try a little bit of everything.”

Instructor Catherine Thomsen talks strategy with then-five-year old Lily Kamm during a 2015 Kids Pottery class at the Community Arts Center.

Instructor Catherine Thomsen talks strategy with then-five-year old Lily Kamm during a 2015 Kids Pottery class at the Community Arts Center.

As part of its ceramic program expansion, the Arts Center also recently launched a studio membership program.

Experienced potters may purchase a monthly membership that allows them expanded access to the ceramics studio, use of studio materials, tools, and glazes, designated storage space for in-progress works, and free firing in the Arts Center kiln.

IF YOU GO 

A new round of ceramics classes start this week. Full information and registration is available online along with application information for the ceramics studio.

ON EXHIBIT

Horizon: Contemporary Landscape and Limited Palette: Featuring Gathering Artists, through Nov. 1, suggested donation of $5; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays

COMING UP

Starry Night Studios: Owl Be Watching, 6:30-9:30 p.m. Tuesday, $30; Poinsettia, 7-9 p.m. Nov. 15, $25

Mini Masters, 4-5 p.m. Mondays, through Dec. 12 ; $80

Kids Drawing, 4-5:30 p.m. Tuesdays, through Dec. 13, $80