For Ellen Kleckner, executive director of the Iowa Ceramics Center and Glass Studio, the Art in the Depot partnership with the Marion Arts Festival is a great chance to share the joys of making art with the wider community. During the festival, the community is invited to step inside the historic train depot in Marion’s City Square Park to participate in family-friendly activities with clay.
“We provide the opportunity to have the actual experience of working clay and playing with clay,” she says. “We bring five of our pottery wheels, and a lot of studio members come and volunteer and show people how to throw on the wheel, which is actually quite fun.”
In addition to trying out the wheels, many folks — adults and children alike — come to the depot to make bowls for the Empty Bowls project.
“We give people the opportunity to create and decorate a bowl,” Kleckner says. “We use different techniques to stamp and to build the bowl. And then throughout the summer, we fire all of those bowls, and we glaze them. Then the next year, it goes back into the Empty Bowls project. They are for sale in the depot the next year as a direct fundraiser for area food banks. Lots of people will come back the next year and look for the bowl that they made the year before.”
Twenty to 30 volunteers from the Iowa Ceramics Center participate in Art in the Depot. In fact, the center, located in NewBo’s Cherry Building, shuts down for the day so members can participate in the Marion Arts Festival.
“This is our biggest outreach that we do at one time throughout the year,” Kleckner says.
Art in the Depot also includes a play table for kids where they can learn to roll out a coil, roll out a slab and more basic clay skills. “Kids can just have the tangible experience of playing with clay.”
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT
The program offers families the opportunity to truly be part of the arts festival as artists themselves.
“I think it’s a really nice thing, because they’re there celebrating art and people are there looking at artists. It’s really nice to be able to experience what it might take, for example, to make that mug that they saw,” Kleckner says.