Down a dimly lit alley on SRU’s campus, secluded from the rest of the sights and sounds is a place where some art students go to escape it all. Few have ventured there alone. Some say there is a lot of pot…tery!
While SRU’s Art Ceramics Building might not be among one of the campus’s prime locations, members of the SRU Potter’s Guild are tirelessly at work inside and they’re hoping to share their craft with the Slippery Rock population.
Once you’ve entered the studio adjacent to Morrow Field House, a giant red octagon with ‘STOP’ written backwards lets you know you’ve arrived at the right place. It says ‘POTS’, and that’s only the beginning of what the potters are sculpting.
“Come down to clay world!” Junior bachelor of fine arts major and public relations for the Potter’s Guild Paula Lockwood, 21, said eagerly with eyebrows raised and arms lifted.
The coffee in her hand signified she was familiar with the long hours associated with working in the studio.
“Every studio has a coffee pot,” she laughed. “We’re always making Sheetz runs because we’re here all night. We have a microwave too, which I guess we shouldn’t have because of the fumes or something, but we have it anyway! We eat here all the time and we’re still alive.”
The group has become mentors for SRU students as well as faculty, staff, and community members.
“Everyone is welcome to come and everything is free,” Lockwood said. The club’s budget allows them to provide the tools needed to sculpt free of charge for those looking to make their own pottery creations, Lockwood said.
The club loves getting their hands dirty to help someone learn, Lockwood said.
“It can be frustrating to learn and it takes time,” Lockwood said. “But we’re not very serious. We want to have fun.”
The club in collaboration with art studio classes contributes 500 ceramic bowls every year to the Empty Bowls event which raises money to feed the homeless.
Sometimes bowls are left behind and donated to the charity, but anyone can take home what they make, Lockwood said.
President of the Potter’s Guild for two years, senior bachelor of fine arts major Justin Steffler, 23, is proud of the work they do for the community and is hoping to start some new projects along the way.
“We would love to have a student show,” Steffler said. “Students could make pots they want to sell and earn a commission from it. The other half of the money would go toward fundraising for the club. But that’s just an idea for now.”
The club is happy to work alongside visiting artists each semester that help teach the art of ceramics.
“We have two visiting artists a semester,” Steffler said. “We also have a mini-mini mud, which is a one day artist that will come in and teach and we have a mini mud that will be here for two days, usually a weekend leading demonstrations. That’s usually more hands-on.”
The wheels are always turning, Steffler said.
The Potter’s Guild will be welcoming artist David McDonald on March 7 and 8 in addition to anyone looking to test their skills, or lack thereof every Wednesday from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Art Ceramics Building.
“It looks scary from the outside, but it’s a lot of fun,” Steffler said.