The Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County (CAA) has opened a new Pottery Studio at the Bayou Arts Center in Santa Rosa Beach. Classes will begin this fall, with reservations on a first-come, first-served basis.
The gift of pottery equipment several years ago by long-time CAA members and artists Tom and Karen McGee was the catalyst for the idea of the Pottery Studio, which came to fruition through a generous donation from Shawn and Richard Tomasello.
“Richard and I are grateful for the opportunity to support our community via the Pottery Studio,” says Shawn. “Research has shown the positive mental and spiritual effects of pottery for students and participants. We see the Pottery Studio as one more way to influence community wellness.”
Pottery is having a resurgence of late, with the New York Times claiming, “Pottery Is the New Pilates.” Working with clay—which requires the participant to focus, be precise, and engage—allows them to concentrate their creative energy while taking a break from everyday stressors and to claim many health and therapeutic benefits including gentle exercise, increased sociability, and improved quality of life through artistic expression.
“Pottery is a balm not only for stress, but for those suffering from depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, or other forms of trauma such as the death of a family member or a divorce,” says George “Skip” Deems, a CAA Member Artist and prolific ceramic artist who spearheaded the pottery program. “It has been clinically shown that the tactile, meditative experience of molding clay improves physical health, too. It can lower heart rate and blood pressure, which regulates breathing.”
“Along with the gifts from the Tomasellos and McGees, the Pottery Studio would not have been possible without the vision and hard work of Skip and his committee,” says Jennifer Steele, CAA executive director. “We are also grateful to the Walton County Board of County Commissioners and Tourist Development Council for their support of the Bayou Arts Center expansion, which allows us to offer a new creative discipline to the community.”
The Pottery Studio will offer professional instruction for a range of students. Locally, few classes in ceramics are being offered, enabling the studio to become a future Walton County asset. Open studio time will also be available for ceramic artists to create without instruction.
Stacy Martin, a newcomer to the CAA fold, is the first pottery instructor to mold young minds during this summer’s Creative Kids Camp, running through July for a range of ages. Campers are learning the basic techniques of hand building, glazing and firing, giving them the distinction of being the first artists to create in the new studio.
The CAA is seeking potential students and future lovers of pottery while also actively recruiting instructors to lead workshops and classes throughout the year. Any ceramic artists hoping to be considered for a teaching position should contact the CAA by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 850-622-5970.
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