History & Mission
Founded in 1974 by five artists in need of workspace, The Clay Studio was envisioned as a stepping stone for students fresh out of art school, offering affordable studio space and shared equipment. Within a short time, however, Clay Studio artists consciously shifted the Studio's mission from an inward focus to an outward educational and community focus. It was the artists' intention to affirm the importance of the ceramic arts alongside other art forms, as well as to bring clay as an accessible, tactile medium to a broad range of people. In 1979, the Studio became a non-profit 501(c)(3) educational institution.
Service to a Broader CommunityAs the Studio grew, the artists, staff, and Board of Directors began to design programs with the goal of building a wide-ranging ceramic art community. Today the Studio's programs are geared toward promoting access to the ceramic arts, at all levels of interest and proficiency, from practicing professionals to disenfranchised children of the inner city to art enthusiasts, students and collectors. Its diverse programs, and the variety of communities it serves, distinguish the organization as both a community oriented art center and as a national and international focal point for ceramic arts.
From a Local PerspectiveViewed from a local perspective, The Clay Studio provides studio space, educational programs and exhibition access to a broad array of artists and residents. It is a vital part of the Old City neighborhood of Philadelphia, having taken a leadership role in the revitalization of the area through the development of its own multi-use arts building and the promotion of the Old City gallery district. The Clay Studio's dedication to the region is evidenced by its program collaboration with area cultural institutions, artists, schools, and community centers. Its Claymobile program has become a local and national model for art educational outreach.
National and International ImpactThe Clay Studio has evolved into one of the best centers for the support of artists and the creation of art in the country. Further, The Clay Studio exhibitions, guest residencies, and lectures have made it among the most important centers for the promotion of ceramic arts in the world. The Studio has mounted seven major international exhibitions - Contemporary East European Ceramics (1992), Ceramics Israel (1995), Cerámica Puertorriqueña Hoy/Today (1998), Terra (Hungarian ceramic sculpture, 2000), British Studio Ceramics (2001), Chinese Ceramics Today (2003) and From the North: Canadian Ceramics (2006). Since 1992, the Studio has hosted artists from over 30 countries through its Guest Artist-in-Residence program, exposing the community to a wide range of cultures. In 2001 the Studio became an institutional member of the prestigious International Academy of Ceramics.
The Studio's determination to promote and develop the ceramic arts has fueled its astonishing growth and even higher aspirations for the future. Due to unprecedented demand, the Studio has expanded its program, adding new classrooms, more artist studios, an educational resource room and a second Claymobile van.