claymobile history & mission
MissionCreated in 1994 as the outreach arm of The Clay Studio, the Claymobile is dedicated to bringing clay art education to diverse populations in the Philadelphia region. The Claymobile partners with schools and community-based organizations, integrating arts into their curriculum and programs. It enriches the lives of its participants through exposure to the arts, while also encouraging organizations and schools to develop and expand their arts programs.
Since 1994, the Claymobile Van has been traversing Philadelphia streets bringing clay classes to schools, community-based organizations and social service organizations. Kathryn Narrow, the founder of the Claymobile, is a ceramic artist and was Managing Director at The Clay Studio from 1989 to 2006. As a former teacher of children's courses at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Narrow recognized the opportunity for reaching children as well as adults through The Clay Studio's educational programs.
The first attempt at reaching a young audience was to offer classes for children at The Clay Studio. Unfortunately, attendance was limited by the lack of families with young children in the Old City area. There was interest from parents in other neighborhoods but time and other constraints prevented them from bringing their children to the classes. Narrow decided that since children couldn't come to us, "we should go to them", and she conceived the idea for a traveling educational arts program. She extracted the name Claymobile from her nieces' "Playmobile" toys and childhood memories of the "Bookmobile". With the help of start up funding from the William Penn Foundation and the Knight Foundation, The Clay Studio purchased the Claymobile Van in the summer of 1994.Since its inception, the program has evolved tremendously with the input of various artists and coordinators and has expanded its reach beyond the traditional classroom to populations including deaf students, children in the juvenile justice system, as well as formerly homeless and learning disabled adults. In 2005, The Clay Studio purchased a second van with the generous support of The Roy Pressman Foundation. The Claymobile continues to serve as a model for other arts organizations both locally and nationally wishing to start mobile arts programs.