Baltimore Clayworks: Creativity and Compassion
An inner-city arts organization is seeing its work in the art and craft of ceramics grow in numerous directions, creating positive impact on the lives of the broad range of Baltimore residents who participate in its programs.
Academy Award-winning filmmaker Errol Webber has captured the story of Clayworks and two forces of compassion who have made it such an asset to the community, founder Deborah Bedwell and lead teacher Herb Massie. “Trial by Fire,” is a short documentary that will help Clayworks share its story as it continues its healing work in the community.
Since 1980, the nonprofit Baltimore Clayworks has encouraged working with clay as a way to instill a sense of confidence, excellence, inclusivity, and joy among its neighbors in the inner-city.
Central to this is their Community Arts Program, a collaboration of grassroots organizations, schools, and public agencies that offer arts activities outside the walls of the center itself. This includes the Tuerk House, an all-male residential treatment facility for addicts and alcoholics that offers an abstinence-based alternative to prison.
Through their work with clay, residents at Tuerk House access alternative and healthier ways to express themselves and reconnect with loved ones in their lives. Their program focuses both on working in clay and on personal skill-building. This way, men exit the program with new skills and a higher sense of self-worth, increasing their odds of success going forward. More recently they have taken their program beyond the walls of Tuerk House to serve an even broader audience with a special emphasis on those in recovery.
This is a project of the Fetzer Advisory Council on Labor, Trades and Crafts.