Clay as Care

The Intersection of Health and Ceramic Art

Oct 9th - Dec 31st, 2025

The relationship between ceramic art and health is examined through an exhibition, scientific research, a publication, and public programs. The project considers ways in which care manifests in ceramic art and how viewing art and working with clay can promote personal and communal health. The exhibition features artists whose practices address healing, rest, and resilience, including Jennifer Ling Datchuk, Pew Fellow Adebunmi Gbadebo, and Ehren Tool.

Co-Curators Jennifer Zwilling and Nicole Pollard will work closely with The Clay Studio Exhibition Council, partners in the health research field, and the three lead artists to create an exhibition and space that reflects the values of care that we see as inherent in the act of making art with clay. 

Clay as Care is supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

The Clay Studio is excited to announce that we have been awarded a major grant of $354,500 from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage to support Clay as Care, an exhibition that examines how care manifests in ceramic art. The grant offers project funding that will support the Clay as Care exhibition, research, publication, and symposium in 2025, along with an additional 20% unrestricted, general operating support. 

At the core of Clay as Care is the work of Adebunmi Gbadebo, Jennifer Ling Datchuk, and Ehren Tool, groundbreaking artists who address care, healing, rest, and resilience in their work. These artists acknowledge and access qualities of care for themselves in making their art, and therefore communicate aspects of care to their audiences. Gbadebo harvests clay from the plantation where her family was enslaved to create vessels as an act of healing for the memory of her ancestors. Datchuk creates work with images representing her journey with fertility-related medical procedures, and builds spaces for contemplation. Tool, a veteran, has made over 250,000 cups during his artistic life and says that his “process is therapeutic - and the cups are a kind of catharsis in clay.” 

In addition to the artists, co-curators Jennifer Zwilling and Nicole Pollard, along with our Community Exhibition Council, staff, members of the care movement, and scientists researching the connections between art and care, will explore how we may offer the visitor ways to engage in acts that combine clay and care within the gallery. The exhibition will push beyond traditional methods of displaying art to create new systems of engagement for visitors that include viewing, creating, and engaging in moments of rest. 

Care is at the center of The Clay Studio’s ethos since its inception in 1974; we are excited to explore this idea with our collaborators as we begin our next half century. We are deeply grateful to The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage for their major support for this project.