Carbondale Clay Center looks to mold its future |

Carbondale Clay Center looks to mold its future

Clad in her denim engineer bib overalls speckled with dried clay, Lauren Kearns climbs on a dusty table at the Carbondale Clay Center to help shape a sculpture.For the new director of the center, Tuesday morning is just another day in the life of an artist who enjoys immersing herself in her favorite medium.”From the time I can remember, I wanted to be an artist. I popped out wanting to do art,” said Kearns, a porcelain artist born in Los Angeles who graduated from the Kansas City Art Institute. “I discovered clay and have loved it ever since. It’s ever-changing, and it’s been around since the beginning of time. Everyone has a way of using this medium in different ways. It’s always changing, which I find exciting. There’s so much you can do with clay.”With that thought foremost in her mind, Kearns is hoping to reintroduce the center, which Diane Kenney founded in 1997, to the valley’s art community.”I want people to think of us as a community arts center that offers different types of art forms,” said Kearns, who completed graduate school at the University of Oregon. “I would also like to see collectors realize the quality of work in this valley and to see more exhibit spaces.”Kearns has her sights set on expanding the Carbondale Clay Center’s facility. She plans to increase gallery space, an undertaking she knows will take time and money.”Along with getting more people in here, the gallery is my main goal,” she said. “We’re a nonprofit that depends heavily on support from grants and fund-raising events.”One such affair is the center’s annual Cajun Clay Night, May 14.”It’s a Cajun-themed celebration featuring gumbo, a lot of artists throwing bowls and a live band,” said Kearns, who taught at museums, colleges and art centers while living in Washington state.Janis Jakielski, a recent Alfred University graduate, is the center’s newest resident artist. She describes her work as “functional, decorative handmade vessels.””There is a really good community of potters around here,” said Jakielski, a newlywed who moved to Carbondale from Connecticut with her husband, Joshua Persky. “I like that the center is community-based and that I work for the community.”Those sentiments are exactly what Kearns wants to hear.Contact April E. Clark: 945-8515, ext. 518,

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