April 08, 2022
The Clay Studio completed its two-year transition from Old City to South Kensington on Friday by unveiling its new home.
The four-story, 34,000-square-foot building, at 1425 N. American St., gives The Clay Studio expanded studio space for resident artists and additional classrooms for its adult arts education and youth after-school programs. Its expanded gallery space will allow visitors to view more than 600 art pieces that The Clay Studio has never displayed.
The first floor includes the Jill Bonovitz Gallery, an adjacent community demonstration studio, an outdoor-covered pavilion for events, the Nicholas Kripal Sculpture Garden and a shop. The gallery will host its inaugural exhibit, "Making Place Better," which will showcase the work of three artists from April 23 to Oct. 2.
The second floor houses classrooms and kiln rooms. Artist workspaces are on the third floor. The fourth floor includes additional classrooms, offices, a kitchen and an open-air rooftop garden and pavilion that can function as an additional event space.
In June, The Clay Studio will begin hosting summer camps for children ages 6-17 and a drop-in program for adults. It also will host a free after-school program for neighborhood elementary school children next fall, with the intention of expanding it to middle and high school students.
This is not The Clay Studio's first foray into South Kensington. Claymobile, the organization's community engagement program, was headquartered for years in the Crane Arts building. The pop-up ceramic studio will now be housed within the nonprofit's new home across the street.
"We know the transformative power of clay and look forward to sharing our love for the material and its creative possibilities with our neighbors, local partners and the larger community in this inspiring new building," Deputy Director Josie Bockelman said.
The Clay Studio broke ground on the $14.5 million project in January 2020. Designed by Philadelphia-based architectural firm DIGSAU, the structure is the first of its kind to be built from the ground up in the U.S. Construction finished earlier this spring.
"When the architects were thinking about their vision for this new architectural landmark's building facade, the inspiration was patchwork and multiple layers coming together," Executive Director Jennifer Martin said. "The multiple layers of the brickwork relate to the process of working in clay; building community is also about the process. We hope to develop layers of support and trust with our new community."
Founded in 1974, The Clay Studio had called 137-139 N. Second St. in Old City home since 1990. The Clay Studio is free and open to the public weekdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on weekends from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.