Clay for All! Stories
Clay Class with The Arc Baltimore
Posted – November 28, 2012
The Arc Baltimore's mission is to provide advocacy and high quality, life-changing supports to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. During spring and fall 2012, Baltimore Clayworks’ teaching community artists, Yvonne Creighton and Kate Walton had the privilege of providing clay programming for over 36 students.
Below is Yvonne’s recollection of the Baltimore Clayworks partnership and program with folks from The Arc Baltimore:
When The Arc Baltimore students first arrived to class they were quiet and tentative with the clay. I had wondered, as they may have been wondering, how they were going to be able to create with clay due to the challenge of their motor skill impairment. After the first few classes a rapport was built between the students, they became more and more comfortable as each student witnessed the other students working with the clay, overcoming fear, getting their hands in the clay, and trying the process. Conversations began to grow and the tone of the class became warmer. By the halfway point of the session, students were exploring the clay, kidding around with each other, and giggling a lot.
When asked what their favorite part of the class was, many students responded: ‘Making new friends’. They would give each other positive feedback like, ‘That looks really great’! And ‘I love what you made’! The Arc Baltimore students work at their own pace; they always show a tremendous amount of patience for themselves and for fellow students. One of the students spent all six classes making one large vase. When looking at the finished product of his effort, he said with tears in his eyes, ‘I can't believe I made this- this is so cool’! He was so proud of himself!
When something would go other than planned, and the clay was not cooperating, one student would always say, ‘don’t worry, I am very flexible.’ many students identified themselves as artists saying things like, ‘my uncle is an artist, and I'm an artist too’ or ‘my mother took a ceramics class here and now I'm doing ceramics’! Many times the students would have someone in mind that they were making their artwork for. They were very excited to see the work when it would come out of the kiln and anxious to take it home. –Yvonne Creighton