Like the leaves changing colors, the return of “Clay on Display” at the Kenai Fine Arts Center is just as anticipated this time of year.
The October exhibit hosted by the Potter’s Guild runs to the end of the month and features a plethora of finely sculpted pottery pieces from peninsula artists. Potter’s Guild President Debbie Adamson said the event, which dates back to 1984, is an important yearly exhibition for the Potter’s Guild, the Kenai Fine Art Center and the individual potters.
“There are a good variety of pieces that appeal to everyone that comes,” Adamson said. “Not only is there functional pottery but there are different kinds. Its diversity, for one thing, is amazing.”
Many of the items at “Clay on Display” are for sale, with most of the proceeds going back to the individual artist. Adamson said any money brought in helps in small ways to keep the studio going.
“Pottery is kind of an expensive hobby to get into,” she said. “It’s very rewarding. I think that anybody that comes in and takes classes will enjoy it. It’s something that you can do for a lifetime if you wish.”
The Potter’s Guild is a co-op studio, meaning it is open to the public to use for classes. Most other major studios in Alaska are privately owned.
Laura Faeo, a member of the Potter’s Guild for over 20 years, said the open nature of the pottery studio has helped keep the event alive in Kenai.
“Our mission is to promote the art of pottery,” Faeo said. “I’m a personal advocate of using pottery as a way to make a living.”
Adamson said the guild not only encourages anyone to try the art of pottery, but also teaches proper techniques and safety guidelines while using the kiln and wheel. Adamson said safety work also includes how to avoid inhaling harmful clay dust while working.
Faeo said having a co-op studio is a huge benefit to not only the guild, but the community as a whole.
“It’s a real asset in the community to have a studio and gas kiln,” she said. “The whole studio is worth about $50,000 at least, with the gas kiln and the equipment.”
“For so many of us, it’s something we absolutely love, especially in the winter,” Adamson added. “It’s therapy. You get out with your friends. It’s just a wonderful thing, especially for some of us who are retired, it gives us something meaningful to do.”
Many, but not all, of the pottery pieces are listed with a price tag, meaning anyone who fancies a piece of work can purchase it straight from the artist.
“I like to encourage potters to sell their stuff,” Faeo said. “It’s a small business, and supporting local artists is a good thing.”