Baltimore Clayworks is a non-profit ceramic art center and a hub for an artist-centered community that provides artistic, educational, and collaborative programs and resources.
Founded in 1980 by nine potters and ceramic sculptors, Baltimore Clayworks offers studio space, equipment, and professional opportunities to ceramic artists in the Baltimore area. Studio classes cover a range of techniques for children and adults, with a special focus on reaching at-risk and underserved populations. Clayworks provides stand-alone community-based satellite studios, called Clay for All! studios, in inner-city communities. Baltimore Clayworks’ vibrant exhibition calendar features the work of local, national and international ceramic artists, in solo and group format, curated or juried by professional artists in the field.
Clayworks’ Community Arts program was the focus of PGDF support in 2014 and 2015. These two Mission Grants funded the Clay and Recovery program at Tuerk House, a residential facility offering comprehensive treatment and transitional living to men recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. Located in Baltimore’s Ashburton neighborhood, Tuerk House serves some of Baltimore’s most vulnerable citizens.
Clay and Recovery consists of weekly classes led by Herb Massie, Director of Community Engagement. As a man in long-term recovery, Herb acts as a mentor and confidante to his students, while building confidence and formal skill. The classes help restore latent creativity in students who have lost touch with the creative impulse. Additionally, making gifts for loved ones helps students repair relationships that were damaged by their substance use.
Not only do the classes engage the men creatively, they also teach them skills that can be used in their lives after treatment. Participation in the Cups for Recovery program, in which participants sell the cups and mugs they’ve made in class, helps teach basic business skills. Many alumni of the Clay and Recovery program have taken lessons they’ve learned at Tuerk House back to their home communities once treatment is complete, participating in community events and sharing their creative skills.
Baltimore Clayworks maintains two historic buildings located in the Mt. Washington neighborhood of Baltimore City. Baltimore Clayworks’ 17,500 sq. ft. of facilities include artists’ studios, classrooms, a suite of seven gallery spaces, kilns, offices, kitchen, and meeting space. Clayworks boasts 13 resident and 30 member artists, 26 trustees, 15 full time, part time, and contractual staff along with more than 60 teachers, 20 interns and work-study students, dozens of volunteers and, hundreds of donors, all of whom make Clayworks a unique, vibrant and community-centered institution.
“One of my cups is going with me, because like I say, once I get situated in the point that I’m in my own home, I can sit that cup on the shelf and actually sit back and think of the start of my life, starting all over again … And it will give me the confidence that I can still create and carry on my life without havoc. It can be like a go-getter. A motivating thing, that if I ever feel down, I can look at that cup and say, ‘I did that. I can do this. I can do whatever I set my mind to do.’ And Clayworks pretty much allowed me to do that.” -Tuerk House clay class participant