October 20, 2022

Young Artists Experiment with Clay


Beginning the 2022-2023 school year, every CCUSD elementary school will have the capacity to include ceramics instruction in their visual arts curriculum. In line with the district’s goals to build an equitable experience in art education, the Culver City Education Foundation (CCEF) has provided funding to equip each school site with tools and supplies for students to experience the creative art of clay working.

What’s special about working with clay? Naturally, the tactile and sensory experience is a lot of fun for our young learners, but this art form also invites educators to teach a variety of other subjects through art. Students can explore the chemistry and science behind firing and glazing in the new and updated kilns. They can develop problem-solving skills as they experiment with different techniques for designing their artwork. There’s also an opportunity to teach cultural awareness as students learn about different cultures’ use of pottery throughout history.

As with other mediums, working with clay is an opportunity to teach an important lesson of art: everyone can be an artist. There’s value and enjoyment in the process of creating, regardless of the end result. Students can build fine motor skills while simultaneously increasing their self-confidence by taking creative risks to make something uniquely their own.

CCEF’s Executive Director Wendy Hamill states, “While some schools have had a long thriving ceramics program, other schools were in need of a working kiln and other program supplies. CCEF is proud to provide funding to fill these gaps so that every school will now have the capability of offering this experience to their students.”

Culver City High School already has a successful ceramics program. CCHS Ceramics Teacher Craig Wisner focuses on techniques of making creative and useful pottery and sculpture. His students learn basic clay formation techniques;  pinch, coiling, slab, sculpture and wheel throwing, as well as staining, decorating, glazing, and firing procedures. Beyond the technical learnings, he feels the social-emotional benefit of having a place where students can express themselves freely and create together makes a positive impact in their school day.

“In public education, many art programs are just getting by with the bare minimum, but that’s not the case here in our studio. It’s great to be able to envision a project and not have to scale back that vision for lack of materials or funding to make it happen,” shares Wisner.

Donations to the Culver City Education Foundation have helped make this valuable creative resource available to our elementary and high school students, and we hope to expand the program into the middle school as well. We look forward to hearing from educators and students about their experience with the new materials at their fingertips.