The impact of the pandemic to ways of living has been monumental, and we have all experienced the need to create and adapt to new routines. NCC quickly understood in the spring of 2020 that in-person clay classes would no longer be a safe option, and pivoted to reimagine an alternative that would still provide our community with relevant opportunities for ceramic education and a way to stay connected to material, making and the clay community.
Clay-Along classes and self-guided kits were created to provide this meaningful space to create amidst uncertainty and a chance to maintain a connection to making from the safety of home. Students and artists, provoked by the curiosity of working and adapting clay to a new world, went out on a limb and registered for these new virtual clay classes and independently led kits.
Clay-Along classes met weekly over video chat as an experienced teaching artist demonstrated and guided students through a variety of projects, and supported students as they established a functional clay space from home. With a new framework of limited materials and space, their creativity was offered a fresh challenge to explore and push boundaries, and individual artistic vision was given a chance to be expressed and refined in a different light. Several participants shared about their Clay-Along experience and what it was like to work with clay in this novel environment.
The flexibility of Clay-Along classes is wonderful in this COVID quarantine world—it feels so good to be productive! Plus, by slowing down with hand-building I’ve developed ideas about surface design that will certainly inform the pots I throw in the future.
I thoroughly enjoyed my first Clay-Along class. I benefited from watching the available video about how to set up a makeshift studio at home. I’ll be using it until regular classes resume and perhaps longer than that. The class was very well organized starting with the ease of class signup as well as the COVID safe pickup of the materials. Marion’s classes were well conceived, fun and easily understandable. I learned some new hand building techniques that will be useful to me for the future. Clay-Along was a real boost for my creative side during these difficult times!
The online classes are a great way for me to keep making art without endangering myself or others. I really like having a Google Classroom to connect with my fellow classmates—we can post pictures and questions for the teacher and other students. Both the class and the procedures are well thought out: from the sessions being recorded (so participants can access it later) to the teachers having two cameras so we can see the demonstrations from multiple angles.
I loved the class because I had something to look forward to other than housework, new people to meet and a new challenge. Chloe Rizzo, teacher extraordinaire, was extremely helpful. I took her class Figurative Sculpture and Beyond to push me further with my pottery, normally I make pieces that have no features, but now I will be able to add more personality to my work.
Though we look forward to the soon coming day that community and clay will be reunited in the studios at NCC as before, we are energized by Clay-Alongs and how they have satisfied clay cravings and sparked creativity during unsettled times, as well as opened doors to a new way of making that can endure or inspire artistic practice for years to come.