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Black Lives Matter.

June 4, 2020

Dear Community Members,

We stand IN UNITY with the Black community and the nation to end the violence done to our people – our brothers and sisters. Black Lives Matter.

As members of the Greater Baltimore Community for forty years, Baltimore Clayworks recognizes the injustice that the Black community faces on a daily basis. We mourn the loss of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and tragically, so many more Black Americans for 400 years. We support the on-going protests against police brutality and systemic racism at large.

Baltimore Clayworks stands in solidarity to fight for racial justice and to dismantle systems of white supremacy. We acknowledge that white-led organizations benefit from these systems of oppression. We have a long road ahead that points to a brighter future and we will make sure to be alongside others steering toward positive change. We refuse to ignore the truth and will not turn away from seeing the broken systems externally and within our own organization as well.

We can all play a part in solutions with our commitment and financial resources. Baltimore Clayworks is committed to supporting Black lives financially and in our programming.

For the next four weeks, we are donating 100% of Baltimore Clayworks’ portion of shop sales to Black-led organizations. Each week we will highlight a different organization. Beyond these critical four weeks, Clayworks staff will ask and listen to Black-led organizations in Baltimore to learn how we can provide on-going support. We will quickly determine a specific plan of action based on what we hear.

We would like to hear from you and take the time to listen to our community and reflect on what you have to say. Please reach out to us if you feel the need to do so. We encourage your progressive suggestions, sentiments, reflections and positive ideas. Especially, we would like to hear the voices of Black and Indigenous people. cyndi.wish@baltimoreclayworks.org, subject line Black Lives Matter.

White allies are essential to ending white supremacy and its violence. We need you and your voice. Attached are links to resources and information so we can all do our part in this global effort to end violence:

Keep your spirits high. Our hearts are with you.

Take care of yourself and thank you,

Baltimore Clayworks Staff and Board


Information and Links

*SURJ is a national organization with local chapters where you can transform your support into action. Join them today.

*A highly recommended website to visit is the National Resource List. This has an extensive list of different ways we all can get involved and educate ourselves. Please take the time to explore the many resources available and share it with your children, your family and friends.

“Not everyone can be on the frontline right now, but there are other ways to support.”

Donate to a BAIL FUND in your area or around the country: https://www.communityjusticeexchange.org/nbfn-directory

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Community Spotlight: Nicole Fall

Clayworks is excited to share a new “Community Spotlight” series of written blog posts by members of our community. During this period of isolation, we hope these posts can spread joy, introduce you to some of the people that make Clayworks amazing, and help you #claypositive. We are kicking off this series with members of our staff – next up is Nicole Fall, Baltimore Clayworks’ Community Arts and BCYF Grant Manager.

“I come from a family of artists; my grandmother, my mother, an aunt, an uncle, and one of my sisters were or are artists. Now my spouse and my grown children are artists as well. I consider myself a sculptor. I created and sold my first sculpture when I was 13 years old – this made something of an impression on me. It was an “I can do this!” moment.

I majored in ceramics at MICA where I made sculpture that was influenced by nature and undersea imagery which was then used to explore the human condition. The department at that time consisted of professors; Doug Baldwin, Ron Lang, and Lois Hennessey; conceptually and technically strong hand-builders. Their teaching was premised in the attitude that you will come up with an idea and then figure out technically how to make it happen. They encouraged big ideas so I made a clay sculpture that was about 7 feet tall before I graduated.

Doug Baldwin brought us seniors to Baltimore Clayworks in 1981, pretty soon after it had opened. He wanted us to see options for continuing to work once we graduated.

Upon graduating, I set up my own studio in every basement (and one living room), of every house I lived in. I was making very thin, fragile clay objects. It was frustrating to endure so much breakage, I wanted to build bigger, AND teach college…  SO, I went to graduate school and learned how to weld steel. Since then I often combine steel with clay. It makes it possible to build things that are weightless-seeming, tall (25 feet so far), with the primordial substance of clay.

I have managed Community Arts twice at Clayworks; in 2000 and again in 2018. It combines my experience as an arts educator and artist with the activism of enhancing access to the arts for all. I very much enjoy the challenge of making clay programming happen in as many spaces as possible in Baltimore. Because of the pandemic we are currently working on how we can deliver programming in a time of quarantine where we cannot have direct contact with the youth we work with.

This time of Covid 19 has been challenging personally. A relative has come to stay with us for the time being and she has Alzheimers. Our time is structured by her needs and like, when we were raising children, we have rediscovered artmaking with interruptions. I have also managed to rediscover solitude and plan on bringing more of that back into my life.  I hope and wish everyone is managing well.”

-Nicole Fall

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Community Spotlight: Merina Casa

Clayworks is excited to roll out a new “Community Spotlight” series of written blog posts by members of our community. During this period of isolation, we hope these posts can spread joy, introduce you to some of the people that make Clayworks amazing, and help you #claypositive. We are kicking off this series with members of our staff – first up is Merina Casa, Baltimore Clayworks’ Development Associate.

“I’ve always had a soft spot for ceramics, mostly because of my mother, who is a fearless and talented woman. When I was growing up, she tried almost every craft you can think of: painting, drawing, glass blowing, carpentry, upholstery, metal sculpture, ceramics, to name just a few. Trust me, there were more. Ceramics was one my mom stuck with for a long time, and she was great at it.

My mom was a large part of the reason why I wanted to become a part of Baltimore Clayworks. She had to stop working on pottery after getting shoulder surgery when I was in college, but she still loves and appreciates ceramics.

Throughout my life, I’ve always been artist-adjacent, never really feeling like I could claim the title. I’ve dabbled in a few art forms, printmaking, drawing, painting, but nothing that I felt like I had ownership of. I think I was deterred, and possibly jealous, of my mom’s innate talent in all things creative.

I had worked at Clayworks for a few months before I was ready to take a class. I’d gone through a bad breakup in the Spring, and I was finally feeling like myself at the start of the Fall session, so I figured I’d give it a try. I knew I wanted to take Sam’s class, I’d always loved his planters, and anyone who knows me can tell you that I am obsessed with houseplants.

One of the first thing Sam tells you is to “DANCE AROUND THE POT! YOU BECOME THE WHEEL!” in his charming, and at times, intimidating Jamaican accent. You watch him mold a perfect cylindrical pot in a matter of minutes while dancing around and around a couple of stacked buckets and bats. It’s almost hypnotizing, and very calming.

For three hours, things just melt away when you shuffle around those stacked buckets. I haven’t made anything groundbreaking, and probably won’t, but I’m enjoying learning about this medium. I feel closer to my mom when I send her photos of what I did in class each week. I’ve learned so much about all the things that clay can do, and how many possibilities come from each piece.

I’ve done a lot of self-exploration in the past year, and I think ceramics has helped me find confidence in new ways that I needed. Being around all the wonderful artists at Clayworks made me realize that these are my people, and I am indeed an artist. Lofty title included.

During these weird covid-19 times, I’m still dancing around pots, this time with Lizzo as a soundtrack (highly recommend). On the other hand, I have also found it incredibly difficult to motivate myself right now. I start projects with great energy and enthusiasm and lose steam halfway through. I’m sure I’m not the only one with that problem. I am the most and least inspired I have ever been. My house is cleaner than it’s ever been, though.

I miss my studio friends, my coworkers, watching people drive the wrong direction down Smith Avenue from the Gallery building. I know we’ll be back to work at some point, whenever that may be, I hope it’s soon. Sending lots of love and light to everyone reading this. Thanks for listening.”

x Merina Casa

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Relief Resources for Artists

Baltimore Clayworks is thankful for our teachers, artists, and creatives. We want to be there for you all as much as possible during these challenging times, in the small ways that we can. Below you will find numerous resources for grant funding for artists. We will continue to update this list as we find more. Thank you for all that you do! We would not get through these times if it wasn’t for the creative expression of artists.


MSAC Emergency Grants for Artists and Art Organizations

MSAC State of Emergency Resources

GBCA List of Resources

BOPA Baltimore Artist Emergency Relief Fund

CERF+ Artist Relief

Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grants

Artist Fellowship *For Immediate Medical Needs*

Teaching Artists Guild Covid-19 Resources

Americans for the Arts Resources

Creative Capitol List of Resources

Resources for Freelance Artists

Hyperallergic Opportunites for Artists in April 2020




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Updates on COVID-19 preparedness

March 16th, 2020

Dear Friends:

The health and safety of our community is our top priority. Baltimore Clayworks will be closed to the public until further notice. To the best of our ability, we will continue to serve our community and our mission by sharing the joy of clay on our social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) and website.

Many of our staff are working remotely, and can be reached via email. Find staff contact information and some cute photos here. General questions? Please email info@baltimoreclayworks.org.

We invite our supporters to consider making a donation to Baltimore Clayworks during this uncertain time. Or if you were enrolled in our spring semester, if you can, please consider turning your tuition into a donation, or requesting class credit rather than a refund.

We are working hard to update our online shop to include amazing work by the talented artists who were scheduled to participate in our NCECA Expo, and plan to continue fulfilling online orders. Early holiday shopping? Retail therapy? We are here for you.

Thank you for your understanding and for your continued support of Baltimore Clayworks.


Marcy Emmer, Board President, and Cyndi Wish, Executive Director

March 13th, 2020

Dear Members of the Baltimore Clayworks Community:

Baltimore Clayworks’ Spring 2020 classes and events will be postponed beginning March 12th, pending further recommendations from the Maryland Department of Health, the Maryland Department of Education, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We feel it is in your best interest and health to follow through with state recommendations to reduce contact in an effort to limit risk for the continued spread of COVID-19.

if you are a Springboard, Mezzanine, or Resident Artist and have any questions, please contact Kevin Rhode. If you are a currently enrolled student or Open Studio registrant and have questions, please contact Matt Hyleck.

Baltimore Clayworks’ galleries and shop will remain open Tuesday – Sunday, 10:00am-5:00pm, where we are taking all recommended precautions to ensure your safety

We look to resume all spring programming in April, once public health officials provide further clarity as it relates to public spaces and gatherings.
Until then, please follow us on social media, visit our online shop, and stay safe.
Baltimore Clayworks
March 12th, 2020

Updates on upcoming March events:

Your health and safety are our top priority. Out of precaution, our Flora and Fauna exhibitions reception and artist talk, scheduled for this Saturday, March 14th from 6-9pm, has been cancelled. Instead, join us online for an artist talk with Eliza Au via Facebook Live and Instagram Live this Saturday, March 14th, at 5pm. Our Flora and Fauna exhibitions are still open to the public, so stop in any day to check them out. We are open Tuesday – Sunday, 10am-5pm.

NCECA recently shared the disappointing news that this year’s conference in Richmond, VA has been cancelled. We at Baltimore Clayworks believe this is the right decision, and we offer our condolences, gratitude, and support to everyone at the helm of the awesome organization. Please help us thank NCECA for all they do, and for making this incredibly hard decision in our community’s best interest.
We were planning on participating in the conference in multiple ways, including: the retail Expo, an exhibition in the conference center, and a resource table. We will be working with NCECA to figure out the next steps moving forward, and have decided to move the amazing artwork that would have been in our Expo booth, to our online shop. We will let everyone know as soon as things are up and available, so keep your eyes on our website and social media.

March 10th, 2020

Dear Members of the Baltimore Clayworks Community:

As we prepare for the start of spring session this week, and the opening of our newest exhibition this weekend, the health and safety of our community is our top concern.
We are closely monitoring the potential impact of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak and following the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Baltimore City Health Department, and Maryland Department of Health. Rest assured that we are taking precautions to provide a safe and healthy environment.

At Baltimore Clayworks we are taking the following actions:

  • Eliminating all communal towels in sink areas to reduce shared contact points – all students must bring their own towels.
  • Installing several new handwashing stations.
  • Disinfecting surfaces daily.
  • Staff, students, faculty, artists, and visitors who are sick or have potentially come in contact with the virus are being told to stay home. (You can still visit our online shop!)

The following are recommendations for personal vigilance to ensure minimal contact with potentially ill individuals, based on health and safety guidelines established by public health officials:

  • Practice good hand hygiene. Wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available. We are currently installing 5 additional soap dispensers at each of our studio sink areas.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue. You can also cough or sneeze into your sleeve. Throw used tissues in the trash and immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid sharing drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, dishes, towels or other items. Wash these items thoroughly with soap and water after use.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick whenever possible.

We will keep you updated as things progress.
Thank you. Be well and we hope to see you soon.

Baltimore Clayworks

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Welcome Kelly, our new UAL Fellow

Baltimore Clayworks is proud to be a UAL Fellow host organization once again this year. The Urban Arts Leadership (UAL) fellowship is a program of the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance (GBCA), and is designed to increase diversity in the management of cultural and artistic organizations by building a pipeline for high achieving emerging leaders, focusing on those of color.

We are excited to welcome Kelly Palmer to Clayworks as our 2020 UAL Fellow. Kelly is a graduating senior at Coppin State University, majoring in Arts Administration with a minor in Nonprofit Leadership and Youth Development. In the future she plans to manage her own nonprofit devoted to mentoring youth. She is an advocate for cultural groups and the representation of black artists. Her mission is to create a legacy for generations to utilize for many years to come. The influence of the arts in addition to the need for an impactful leader in our community is what motivates her to pursue her goal of leading a successful arts sector in our community.

Please join us in welcoming Kelly to the Clayworks community!


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