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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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A Letter about Mugs from our Executive Director

I drank tea out of a mug made by Sam Briegel for the first time today.

The first time I saw Sam’s mugs was in 2018 at the Winterfest Show at Baltimore Clayworks. Was it love at first sight? Probably. I’d never seen mugs like that before and  I’ve seen a lot of mugs. Sam’s mugs are not only beautiful, they are well balanced to my hand. I like a three-finger handle. I became obsessed.

But I didn’t buy one. I imagined bringing one home and the rest of my mugs giving it the dubious, judgmental side-eye. “What is SHE doing here?” (Kind of like if my husband one day brought home Rosie Perez and told me she was going to live with us and occasionally wear my clothes.) I wasn’t afraid of mug mutiny – I just didn’t want the rest of my mugs to feel unloved.

And then, the day of our “stay at home” directive, Sam Briegel gifted me a mug, and I brought it home.

I love all my mugs equally. Some of them are “what a meditative morning” mugs, and some are “drink your coffee and pull yourself together” mugs. Some mugs feel and look the way lapsang souchong tastes. Some mugs are for reading short articles, some mugs prefer long, existential novels, and some mugs fit perfectly on the side of the bathtub.

Today, I needed a cup of lemon ginger tea in a gorgeous mug, so I used my Sam Briegel mug for the first time. I also didn’t want the mug to feel like it wasn’t functional. We had a lovely afternoon together, feeling calm and useful.

What do you need right now? Does this situation have you feeling down and you need a “cheer up” mug? Have you started something new and exciting and you need a celebratory mug? Do you need a wide bottomed mug that your cat can’t knock over? Do you need a little guy because you’re trying to cut back on coffee? Or a big coffee mug because it’s hard to fully wake up these days?

May I suggest you visit our online shop? I don’t know if you need a new mug or not.  What I do know is that the artists represented in our shop could use the support right now. The perfect mug in the perfect moment is a recipe for pure joy.

Someday a good enough therapist will tell me whether or not it is sane to anthropomorphize mugs.

Until then, I hope you are all healthy and that your mugs are at least half full.

Cyndi Wish
Executive Director

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Community Spotlight: Ariel Cavalcante Foster

Hello ClayWorld,

It is truly a gift to be a part of the Clayworks Community which I hope to share and spread to others. I first heard of Baltimore Clayworks when I became an Urban Arts Leadership Fellow, which works as a pipeline or I prefer to say, propeller, for arts administrators of color to excel into the field. I always had a deep love and curiosity for ceramics so when I was placed into a fellowship position at Clayworks I knew it was destiny.

Being in a creative environment allows for endless possibilities and hidden treasures. We took off with speed during my fellowship, evaluating the workforce development class, leading initiatives within the Diversity, Equity, Access and Inclusion Committee and towards the end of the fellowship, curating an multi-disciplinary art show and performance. That was 2019, who knew what we had in store for us in 2020.

Fortunately, I was able to take two classes before the closures, one with the legendary Sam Wallace and the other with the lovely and talented Hae Won Sohn. There is magic in working with clay. During my first class I got to experience the healing pleasure that comes from clay and movement. Sam showed us how we can find a seamless rhythm and movement to hand building. I have yet to glaze and fire two out of the three pots I created, one of the things I’m looking forward to when we return. Mold-making with Hae Won was so beneficial to learn as a skill set from such a knowledgeable artist who learned from the best. I miss our Clayworks fam!

While being forced to live without our regular dose of social interaction, what better time than now to count our blessings and look inward. I am living with immense gratitude everyday, practicing the art of tuning into beyond what our senses hold, and learning about quantum physics.

The early part of my days consist of the rewarding work that we do at Baltimore Clayworks, co-cultivating a supportive social justice culture through inclusion strategy work and continuing to serve Baltimore children and youth through our community arts team, even if we have to reinvent our system within the renewed digital world.

In the evenings I move towards more personal work in the studio, which I have been going to every day. Sometimes it’s a glamorous flow of painting and other times I am once again facing a screen to do more computer work. That is why it is ESSENTIAL for me to spend time in the heart of nature everyday and just breathe.

Thank you for reading. Please feel free to reach out if you’d like to speak with me!


Ariel Cavalcante Foster
Inclusion Strategist and Community Arts Associate

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May Letter from our Executive Director

Hi there,
How are you? What do you need right now?
I’m at the point in this situation where I want things to go magically back to whatever “normal” used to be. I miss you. I miss the studios. I miss my co-workers. Ralph the dog misses his office friends, treats, and belly rubs.
At Baltimore Clayworks we have started the (very) early stages of planning for a safe re-opening. It’s tricky because so much of the magic of learning about clay defies social distancing. But we are figuring out how to continue serving you, likely moving forward with some hybrid educational model of modified on-site learning and digital education, and a staggered studio schedule. The wheels are churning. (No pun intended!) I can’t promise “normal”, but I can promise that we will keep you posted and do our best.
For now, though, I am happy to let you know that we will be holding an online panel, Clay at Home, about the pros, cons, inventions, and frustrations of being a clay artist with a home studio. We will talk about setting up a home studio, including what works in a variety of spaces with a variety of budgets, and there will be time for questions, answers, and discussion. Panelists will include Matt Hyleck, Mary Cloonan, Mia Halton, Antoinette Nero, Angelique Scott, and maybe Sam Wallace.
The panel will be held this Friday, May 15th at 4pm on Zoom. It will be free and open, but space is limited and an RSVP is required. If you are interested in attending, email info@baltimoreclayworks.org, and we will send you the participant link.
In the mean time, stay safe, #claypositive, and as always, please reach out to me or any of our staff with thoughts, concerns, suggestions, or if you just want to know how many times my son Luke has managed to cover our kitchen in chocolate sauce.
Be well,
Executive Director
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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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May 5th, 2020

Dear Friends,

Last summer, each morning when I arrived at Baltimore Clayworks to work, I’d first visit the organization’s vegetable garden and pick tomatoes, cucumbers, and hot peppers. I’d leave them in a bowl at the front desk or take them over to the studio building to share. Who doesn’t love a fresh garden tomato?

My favorite part of my day, though, was walking through the studios—just to say hello, see how Sam was doing, and to see what everyone was making and working on. This is what I miss the most, and what I look forward to the most when we re-open.

And we will re-open. Baltimore Clayworks was fortunate enough to receive a Payroll Protection Loan from the Federal SBA, and our staff are hard at work finding innovative ways to bring the joy of clay to you, from a “safe distance.” Our staff and the Baltimore Clayworks board have been carefully monitoring finances to ensure that we will re-open for you.

We need your help to ensure that we can re-open our studios and galleries as soon as safely possible, and to ensure that we have the resources to develop and sustain high quality programming during the interim.

If you can, please visit our website and support Baltimore Clayworks this #GivingTuesdayNow. Anything you can give is a solid investment in what Baltimore Clayworks will give back to you and our community.

Until I can see you in person, please visit our website, follow our social media, reach out to our staff, and stay safe, stay home, and #claypositive.


Cyndi Wish
Baltimore Clayworks’ Executive Director

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