The Clay Studio Hosts 50th Anniversary Celebration with Three New Exhibitions by Founders, Resident Artists, and More
Friday, January 19, 2024.
Pictured Above: Philadelphia’s Clay Studio celebrates its 50th Anniversary. Photo Credit: Contributed.
NEWSROOM POST: PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA
Philadelphia’s Internationally recognized center for ceramic art also celebrates
the 30th anniversary of its community outreach program, The Claymobile
With a Special Anniversary Event set for Sunday, January 28th
Philadelphia, PA – On Sunday, January 28, from 2 to 5 p.m., the Internationally recognized center for ceramic art, The Clay Studio, commemorates its landmark 50th anniversary with a special event, launching a year-long celebration highlighting the organization’s history and impact on the Philadelphia and national arts community. During this event, patrons can view three new exhibitions featuring the works by past, present, and future artists. Additionally, leaders will unveil a new sculpture by figurative ceramic artist George Rodriguez that will be installed at the entrance of the nonprofit’s building. Founded in 1974, The Clay Studio has dedicated five decades to providing studio space, exhibition galleries, and educational programming to serve artists of all ages – within and beyond Philadelphia.
The Clay Studio begins its 50th-anniversary celebration with Founders & Foundations, an exhibition featuring new and pasts works by the artists who founded the organization and those who set it on the path to becoming Philadelphia’s preeminent center for contemporary ceramic art. The exhibition includes works by Jill Bonovitz, Syd Carpenter, Jimmy Clark, Katie Regan Dalzell, Martha Jackson Jarvis, Kirk Mangus, Janice Merendino, Kathryn Narrow, Claire Rodgers, Ken Vavrek, and Amy Sarner Williams, and Sybille Zeldin.
The Founders & Foundations, Claymobile Creations: Philly Foods, and Flow – will be on view for the public beginning on Tuesday, January 23.
Pictured Above: Work done by a Founder of Clay Studios, Katie Regan. Photo Credit: Contributed.
“We’re excited to highlight recent and past artworks by the people who had the vision to form a creative community around clay in 1974,” said Jennifer Zwilling, Curator and Director of Artistic Programs at The Clay Studio. “In addition to celebrating 50 years of The Clay Studio, we want to highlight the incredible careers of these amazing artists. We are thrilled that they remain important members of our artistic community.”
Founders & Foundations features works by 12 artists, including four of The Clay Studio’s founders. Each artist has made considerable contributions to the field of ceramics – both in Philadelphia and beyond. Jill Bonovitz, whose name adorns The Clay Studio’s main gallery space, was named Moore College of Art’s 2019 Visionary Woman Awards Honoree and has served on several boards of cultural institutions in Philadelphia and New York. Ceramicist Kathie Regan Dalzell is known for creating functional pieces in porcelain that have been exhibited throughout the Philadelphia region and has taught ceramics at area schools for over 25 years.
Pictured Above: Work done by a Founder of Clay Studios, Claire Rodgers. Photo Credit: Contributed.
In forming The Clay Studio, the founders created a place to hone techniques they had learned abroad or experiment with ideas in a space that provided access to equipment among their artistic contemporaries. Janice Marendino credits the support she received at The Clay Studio for allowing her to explore calligraphy and traditional Japanese “urauchi” scroll mounting techniques that appear in her work. Similarly, Ken Vavrek’s ceramics were influenced by trips he made to deserts in the American Southwest in 1975. He returned to Philadelphia inspired by those landscapes and created various abstract and metaphorical formats, including sculptures, vessels, and wall sculptures. These ideas would occupy his practice for the next 20 years.
The exhibition also includes artists who oversaw significant developments and initiatives at The Clay Studio. Jimmy Clark, a Former Director of The Clay Studio for 16 years, led the nonprofit’s relocation to 137 N. 2nd Street in Old City in 1990, greatly expanding its gallery and facilities space. He also vaulted the organization’s presence internationally through the groundbreaking exhibition East European Ceramics. Clark’s colleague Kathryn Narrow, a former Managing Director and Resident Artist, also left a lasting legacy by establishing the Claymobile, providing all-ages arts programming to over 50,000 students in communities throughout the Philadelphia region since 1994.
Fellow Founders & Foundation artist Claire Rodgers came to Philadelphia in 1976 as a Resident Artist at The Clay Studio. She continued her involvement as an Associate Artist, exhibiting artist, and executive board member. Similarly, Amy Sarner Williams began her time at The Clay Studio as a Resident before working in numerous roles within the organization for 17 years, including instructor, board chair, Executive Director, and CEO. Williams contributed to professionalizing and integrating programs while leading the organization’s expansion to become the sole occupant of the 137-139 N. 2nd Street location in 2002.
While many Founders & Foundations artists are closely tied to The Clay Studio, the rest have participated in residencies, been featured in exhibitions, and shaped the Philadelphia ceramics community. This includes renowned sculptor Martha Jackson-Jarvis, internationally-exhibited ceramicist Kirk Mangus, former Resident Artist Sybille Zeldin, and ceramic artist and 915 Spring Garden founder Syd Carpenter.
2024 also marks 30 years since The Clay Studio established its mobile community outreach program, the Claymobile. The “pop-up” ceramics studio allows teaching artists to lead classes at local schools, senior facilities, community centers, and other organizations – serving 5,800 students annually and more than 50,000 since its inception. The second exhibition launching on January 20, Claymobile Creations: Philly Foods, features over 200 ceramic works by Claymobile students inspired by various iconic local foods.
Pictured Above: Sculpture by Soon Cho. Photo Credit: Contributed.
The Clay Studio’s Jill Bonovitz Gallery includes a third exhibition, Flow, highlighting the latest work by current Resident Artists. California-born artist Ruth Easterbrook is known for creating art for everyday life using a range of techniques from the coil and slab to the wheel. Korean artist Jinsik Yoo examines his own sense of transition as a personal and universal experience within his work. His contemporary Minah Kim’s ceramic art simultaneously communicates the process of working and thinking about internalized memories. Flow also includes works by Soojin Cho, Celia Feldberg, Adebunmi Gbadebo, Akiko Jackson, Josephine Larsen, Liisa Nelson, Jeanne Robertson, Kevin Snipes, and Chris M. Rodgers.
Pictured Above: Sculpture done by current resident, Yoo Jinsik, part of the Flow exhibit. Photo Credit: Contributed.
Founders & Foundations, Claymobile Creations: Philly Foods, and Flow are on display through March 31. Entry to The Clay Studio’s galleries and The Shop is free to the public, Monday to Friday, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday to Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Guests can view exhibitions and shop items in- person or online.
About the Clay Studio: The Clay Studio is a nonprofit arts organization with internationally renowned artist residency programs, classes and events, exhibitions, community engagement programs, a shop, and more. It serves as a center where established and emerging artists come to shape their careers, a vital resource for arts education at local schools and community organizations, and a destination where people from every neighborhood in Philadelphia and all over the world can explore the vast world of clay. Visit theclaystudio.org for more information.