Cajun Clay Night |

Cajun Clay Night

“Community art may, indeed, be the new art form for our time.”

” Maryo Ewell

While Lauren Kearns made 150 ceramic bowls for the Cajun Clay night on May 20, what she really wants is to fire up the community on the benefits of clay arts.

Kearns is director of the Carbondale Clay Center, a nonprofit community clay studio founded in 1997 by Diane Kenney that serves the Roaring Fork Valley and has connections with artists from all over the world.

Every year, locals look forward to the Mardi Gras-themed event for the art, the gumbo, and the live music. This year restaurants Six89 and Phat Thai provided the food, while local band Acoustic Mayhem served up the entertainment.

Clay Center artists made more than 400 bowls for the event so partygoers could pick their favorite, fill it with gumbo, and then take it home as a souvenir.

“It’s the value of a handmade object,” Kearns said. “That’s the gift we give back.”

The event drew more than 250 people and raised $24,000 toward its $180,000 annual budget.

The Clay Center uses its funds for community outreaches such as a youth recovery programs, public art projects, collaborative murals and specialized classes for groups.

The center is also responsible for the community-themed murals at Carbondale Elementary and Sopris Park, completed in 2004.

The center exists on donations, grants and volunteers, which helps in its mission to build community through clay-related activities. “Art is universal,” Tracy Handy said.

She said that clay is a way to connect people, cultures and history.

According to Handy, the Clay Center draws eclectic artists from California to New York, as well as internationally.

“We’re a Santa Fe waiting to happen.” She said.

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