By KERRY KRISEMAN
Public Relations Manager
Making the arts accessible is the vision that has sustained Creative Clay since the nonprofit opened in 1995. Born out of a desire to meet the needs of an underserved population. Creative Clay’s Community Arts Program has served individuals with neuro-differences, educating and inspiring them to become working artists.
Creative Clay’s member artists’ work is shown in its Good Folk Gallery in the Grand Central District in St. Petersburg, in exhibits throughout the Tampa Bay area, on the walls of businesses such as Black Crow Coffee Company, Kahwa Coffee, Homeowner’s Financial, David Vargas State Farm Agency and in the office of State Representative Ben Diamond.
Member Artist Stacey B. derives a sense of pride through art making.
“I like to work in the studio with all my friends,” she said. “I like needlework, painting, drawing and clay. When I make art, I feel good about myself.”
Creative Clay member artists in our Community Arts Program create art derived from what inspires them. All senses are engaged as they create using different mediums. The accomplishment of completing a work of art instills pride and satisfaction. Member artists strive to create exhibit-worthy work for Creative Clay’s Good Folk Gallery, which is open to the public Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and every second Saturday during ArtWalk.
“I like to draw with other artists, and I feel pretty good making art,” Member Artist Shawn D. said.
The work of Creative Clay’s artists is also available to view online in a virtual gallery on its Facebook page, and on Instagram @creativeclaystpete. Visitors to those platforms will see the diverse subject matter that informs the work of the artists.
“I like to draw houses, and wedding stuff. I’m good at it,” said Member Artist Sydney R.
The artwork of Creative Clay artists is also available for purchase through Redbubble, accessible through the “Shop” menu on its website. Artwork has been stylized to be available in the form of home living accessories, phone cases, apparel, frames, stationary, baby items and more. The implementation of this purchase option allows Creative Clay artists’ work to be available in many options, such as the popular wearable art. Accessibility is increased to include individuals outside Creative Clay and the Tampa Bay area community who are able to enjoy the art and support Creative Clay.
Creative Clay’s artists continue to create from within, drawing on what excites and motivates them.
“My ideas come from me,” said Joseph (JJ) H. “I draw a lot, and I paint a lot of people. I can draw a head, a tail and all different sea life, dragons and people. I draw a lot of different shapes and I put them together, all different shapes. And lines, horizontal, that look like stained glass.”
Creative Clay’s vision is to make the arts accessible to all. Its mission is to help people with disabilities achieve full and inclusive lives through access to the arts by providing expressive, educational and vocational experiences.
Creative Clay’s core program is its Community Arts Program, which serves 50-60 adult artists with neuro-differences each week. Through the implementation of additional offerings, such as the inclusive Art Around the World Summer Camp, Summer Studio for older teens and young adults, Artlink employment program, Creative Care Arts in Wellness outreach program, and its Pinellas County Schools’ partnership Transition program, individuals of all ages and abilities are mentored, taught and empowered to become working artists who actively create, market and sell their work. The result is that a formerly stigmatized population, through the art it creates and sells, demystifies stereotypes surrounding those with disabilities and creates a culture of acceptance throughout the community.
Like and follow Creative Clay on Facebook, on Instagram @creativeclaystpete and on Twitter @creativeclay.