Brooklyn ceramics studio aims for expansion to offer services to growing community
Students at ArtShack Brooklyn — many of which are young children — learn how to create ceramics from scratch.
A Brooklyn nonprofit studio is hoping to open the doors of the art world to children and adults of all ages and all abilities with just the spin of a pottery wheel.
ArtShack Brooklyn is a ceramics studio currently located at 348 Waverly Ave. and although the nonprofit has been at the site for a few years now, the goal for this summer is to open a storefront location that will help its services reach a larger community of aspiring artists.
McKendree Key and Dany Rose are the founders behind ArtShack — which first started in a Brooklyn backyard — and for the past five years has been offering a ceramics program with a focus on children between the ages of 6 and 13 years old.
“There are so many programs that are just sort of about fitting into a box and fitting into the rules of art and we are really about thinking outside of the box and try to explore ways for kids to experiment,” Key said.
Although the nonprofit offers other classes such as textile, mixed media, sewing, and weaving, the main emphasis goes to ceramics.
Key added that through the ceramic classes — which allows the children to escape the crazy city life — students are able to actually work on a pottery wheel and practice making their creations while also being guided on how to create designs of their own.
“Unlike other studios, we actually have kids making things on a wheel,” Key said. “We start from scratch.”
According to Key, along with exploring everything from colors to learning about art forms, through the program children are also taught business and entrepreneurial skills.
Through what the nonprofit calls the Think Shack program once the students create their ceramic molds, they are taught how they will be reproduced and later sold on the ArtShack website. The money that comes from the students’ designs all goes back towards scholarships which are offered to students wanting to participate in classes.
“We really work with them to learn the skill, not just to make something quick and take home,” she said. “We’re in it for the long run.”
Currently ArtShack is located in a small third floor space, but through raising funds on a Kickstarter campaign, the Brooklyn duo plans to open a bigger, better location in July at 1127 Bedford Ave.
The funds will also go towards purchasing new pottery wheels, building out the space and allowing the nonprofit to double the number of scholarships it can give out.
Once they complete the expansion, ArtShack also plans to offer more classes to adults, create a membership program, and also continue to work with nonprofit Dream Street NYC, which works with individuals with special needs or different abilities.
“We’re trying to offer affordable options to the people in the community,” she said. “Ceramics is an access point to the arts, it hits all of the bells.”