For many, art is a form of expression. Creating a piece could be a mode of communication, a method of making a statement or perhaps a therapeutic outlet. Every artist invites us to view more than what we just see on the canvas itself. This allows us to appreciate the individual story of each piece of art we find in a gallery, museum or those gracing the walls of any lucky building. St. Petersburg, Florida is home to a cultural arts center that approaches the arts and supporting of artists in a different way. Located at 1114 Central Avenue, Creative Clay’s mission is to: “provide educational, expressive and vocational opportunities in the arts for people with obstacles to arts access.”
In 1995 Creative Clay began as the first arts organization in Florida geared directly toward serving people with developmental, physical and emotional disabilities through cultured arts education. This non-profit allows the arts to be accessible to people in assisted living centers, to children through All Children’s Hospital and summer camps, plus abuse victims – through organizations such as CASA Community Action Stops Abuse – and to our veterans.
Through various programs within the organization, people with certain ailments are able to learn, create and even sell their one-of-a-kind works of art. For example, the Community Arts Program provides a local professional artist to work with the adult member artists up to five days a week all year long. During the program, the member artist is able to develop his or her unique technique. Furthering the education of the member artists, they are able to earn a commission through the sale of their art pieces.
I had the opportunity to sit and chat with Creative Clay’s Executive Director Kim Dohrman (who is just an absolute ray of sunshine!). A painter herself, Kim has an understanding of what it feels like to be recognized and taken seriously as an artist.
“I love Creative Clay for a lot of reasons,” Dohrman explained as she talked of her admiration for the organization, “but one of them is because I believe that art can not only heal, but it can increase the quality of somebody’s life.” She went on to say that making art can lift you up; Creative Clay gives artists the opportunity to make, sell, and receive validation by the community by being actually called an artist. The individuals involved in these programs may not have ever been truly given a pat on the back for much of anything due to their circumstances. Through Creative Clay, here in Downtown St. Pete, they love the artists and welcome their honest pieces into the community with open arms.
As I walked into the gallery, I began smiling as I lost myself in each piece. I quickly noticed a common thread. The art created here at Creative Clay, is the absolute opposite of pretentious – it is beautifully authentic. With a broad range of affordable prices, purchasing a piece at Creative Clay not only benefits the organization, but the artist who created it. Their sense of pride grows when receiving their sales commission check. Plus the new owner will have a piece of art that will absolutely brighten up their life!
Kim shared a wonderful success story of one of the member artists named Dolores. She was part of one of the programs when Kim began at Creative Clay in 2007. Everything that Dolores created seemed to be dark and melancholy; however, through time she gained recognition for her work and her pieces started selling. Dolores quickly transformed into a different person and began to feel comfortable talking to others about her work. Kim says that, “She literally blossomed!” Currently Dolores works at Creative Clay as an assistant teacher artist and even teaches her own class two days a week with lesson plans that she comes up with on her own. (All of this happened thanks to the supportive community here in DTSP. What a great organization this is!)
How can you get involved with Creative Clay? There are plenty of volunteer opportunities, events to attend, and sponsorship is always welcomed. And to keep these amazing artists going and growing – head on over to the gallery located at 1114 Central Avenue to view the art and support them with a purchase! Creative Clay is a happy place and you will be pleased you stepped inside.
DowntownStPete.com is proud to share only the best things to do in Downtown St. Pete! We introduce you to the personalities who make our community unique, the most exciting events to attend, and the 5-star places to visit (like Creative Clay!) in DTSP. Go ahead and create your profile to interact with other awesome members. Once you have done so, you can post fun photos of you and your friends enjoying DTSP onto Downtown Now. We can’t wait to hear from you!