Clayworks Inc. is a non-profit organization, providing three decades of ceramics education to the Charlotte community. Established in 1977 under the auspices of Spirit Square Center for Arts & Education and continuing in that capacity until 1996, the studio offered courses at the center’s North Tryon Street location. From 1996 to 1997, Clayworks operated in the same location under the Arts & Science Council. In 1998 the organization was absorbed under the McColl Center for Visual Art and relocated to studio space on East 9th Street. In 2004, Clayworks became an independent organization, maintaining its same location, but establishing its own 501(c)3 status.
During its three decades of operation, Clayworks has expanded its offerings beyond ceramics classes to include specialized workshops, studio space rental for individual ceramists, and a gallery which promotes and sells the work of both faculty and professional artists. The studio’s programmatic mission has transformed into one that has an impact on and improves the surrounding community. Clayworks has established relationships with a number of groups and organizations that collaborate on outreach-based programs. The result of its outreach is a broader base of enthusiasm for the ceramic arts in Charlotte, and ultimately, an increase in the self-confidence, motivation, and creative skill of its participants.
Clayworks estimates that over its three-decade history, the organization has touched more than 10,000 students in the Charlotte area.
Clayworks supports its resident artists and students by sponsoring two studio sales events- in April and December.
The studio strives to continue increasing its enrollment; its goal is to become the region’s premier open ceramics arts studio.
The studio also aims to diversify its student population, economically, ethnically, and educationally by offering scholarships and work/study opportunities to those in need. Every year, the organization sponsors three Charlotte-Mecklenburg School teachers who are taking certification renewal classes and three artists are given studio space in exchange for work as studio assistants.
Student profiles vary from the typical to the unexpected. Students range in age from grade schoolers to octogenarians. They have a wide range of occupations, including professional ceramicist, student, homemaker, teacher, symphony musician, and banker. They each come to Clayworks with a different skill level, yet they converge with a similar desire: to master a material with their hands. Some students take one session of instruction, while others become lifelong students, and ultimately, self-proclaimed artists. Clayworks uses student profiles to expand its client base and to ensure a curriculum that meets the changing needs of its learners.