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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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