Clay Days was a two year project (2016-2018) offering drop-in ceramics classes to anyone interested for just $5 per session. Clay Days operated twice per week at SOMArts Cultural Center and provided access to ceramic resources with as few barriers as possible.
At the culmination of the Clay Days programming, Embark hosted a survey exhibition of ceramic work made during the sessions.
Embark Gallery Presents “All Welcome: The Clay Days Experiment” Artist Matt Goldberg Explores the Possibilities of Community Art Making
Clay Days began as a solution to the problem of affordable studio space in San Francisco, an offering of place to fellow artists in need. Goldberg had the room (and the clay) and all anyone had to do was show up and create. What started as a humble gathering of friends grew, organically and exponentially, into a program that acted both as a democratizing force in a competitive and often hierarchical art world, and an important facet of Goldberg’s own practice.
For Goldberg, Clay Days became a way to delve into the infinite possibilities of the medium, through shared experimentation and investigation. He also acted as the facilitator and the instructor, helping his brood to understand how learning, teaching and collaboration can affect artistic output. Sharing in the making process was essential to the project, the communal effects of making together almost reaching spiritual heights.
As he says, “A ceramics practice is tactile and therapeutic. Clay reveals the secret liquid state of all things – that material can slip between states of matter – that water informs shape. This is as much an artistic medium as it is a way to navigate the world.”
This exhibition is unique in that the work of all participants is exhibited on an equal plane. Clay has historically been the material that shifts between art and artisan, fine art and craft. To conflate that old tale, Clay Days accepts both professional artists, amateur makers, and non-makers equally. High and low have been flattened – the classroom and medium democratized, as have the often unapproachable walls of the fine arts gallery.
What similarities and themes occur when all ideas and techniques are validated? When the barriers of access are consciously diminished as much as possible? And, in a city whose history of radical art-making is rich while its displaced artists are decidedly not, what could be more radical than something cheap?