Our Clay Leaves A Mark - Nia Centre for the Arts

Our Clay Leaves A Mark

By Nia Centre, p
Posted on April 11, 2024

Ceramics are one of the oldest industries and forms of art. As early as 24,000 BC, when humans discovered clay could be dug up, mixed with water and fired, we realized objects could be crafted, and we’ve never looked back. Around the world, through utilitarian, artistic, social, commemorative and religious purposes, ceramics have represented and played an important role in shaping culture, especially in Eastern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Today, clay-based art is commonly used to tell our stories and express our point of view.

In partnership with The Gardiner Museum, the “Mark Making: Clay Workshop” was a language of artistry, using clay, in a seven-week workshop series led by the experienced ceramicist Adam Williams of Clay Space Studio. Adam, who is a Trinidadian artist, and familiar friend of ours, had facilitated the previous clay based workshop; Knowing Histories, Building Futures in collaboration with the Gardiner Museum’s Community Art Space Initiative. Through these free-of-charge programs, we create opportunities to undo the effects of the dismissal of our communities' historical art culture.

Throughout the Mark Making series, 12 participants embarked on a journey to explore various clay-making techniques inspired by Afro-Diasporic histories and traditions. Hands-on activities included acquiring hand building & glazing skills, while other events included artist talks & museum tours, offering participants a unique opportunity to learn and expand their artistic discipline. 

In the seven weeks, the artists worked in both the Gardiner Museum as well as the Artist Studio here at Nia Centre. The collaboration resulted in the exposure of not only the practice of the clay based art, but also the equipment, facilities, and communities that can be pivotal to one's success within multiple industry disciplines. For example, Sarah Edo, who was a part of the Knowing Histories workshop series in 2021, is now a member of the Gardiners Curatorial Residency Program and has curated a small-scale exhibit named ‘Genealogies of Sustenance’ which lives front and centre at the Gardiner, where artist express their shared interest in the theme of storytelling across Africa and the black diaspora. 

This partnership; built on the foundation of both partners' strong suites created an experience that in many ways assists in paving the way for future opportunities and growth within the world of arts for early-career artists and community members.

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