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Pottery Club carries on despite relocation

At the crux of the on-campus fine arts scene lies a club that seeks to combine community, creativity and, most importantly, clay. About three decades ago, the Pottery Club sprang up at Brandeis and is now led by president Marisa Rubel ’17. Although the club has technically existed since the early ’90s, Rubel explains that she and peers revived the club in 2014, imbuing life into a much-needed creative space for students.

Rubel claims that Pottery Club is more than simply a workshop for those with an interest in ceramics, asserting that the club serves as a vessel for building relationships, stretching comfort zones, relieving stress and escaping “the hum of the main campus,” as she put it. She assures that prospective members should not feel like they are not artsy enough to join. This is a club for those who want to learn new skills and improve on old ones.

Unfortunately, the club underwent a shocking and upsetting change in the fall. After having operated out of the club’s studio in the Usen Castle for years, Rubel, Brittany Finney ’17 and other E-board members returned to campus in great anticipation for what the fall semester would bring, only to find out that they had been locked out of their studio. The Brandeis administration did not reach out to club leaders before locking the studio, and as a result, the club was forced to halt their practices.

While many on-campus clubs can perform their activities in classrooms, the Pottery Club was incapacitated without studio space. Even so, Rubel and Finney were not about to go down without a fight and linked up with Yage Wang ’18 and Lian Chen ’19 in order to make a statement to the administration that students truly cared about and needed the Pottery Club. On Nov. 3, the club took to the SCC atrium and held studio hours for anyone who was interested, where they were met with massive support.

Finally, the Pottery Club was allowed a temporary, shared studio space in Goldman-Schwartz, lent to the club under tight restrictions. Although Rubel was relieved that the group would continue to live on, even for just over a semester, the situation that the club exists in now is less than ideal.

“We have less space as we share the studio with classes,” Rubel said. “We have less organization, fewer hours and our materials are spread across two locations. Also, within the studio itself, we only have shelf and material space in the basement, so all the clay and glaze is stored there and is brought up for studio hours … We cannot spread out or use the space as we would like and all our materials have to be put away completely every day.”

Although the shared studio serves as somewhat of a solution, Rubel underscored that the club needs a new on-campus studio since it will be kicked out of Goldman-Schwartz at the end of spring semester. Despite all of the hardships that the group has endured, Rubel is thankful to instrumental figures who were by her side supporting the club and supporting its future.

This semester, along with searching for a new home for the Pottery Club, Rubel aspires to thrust the group to “the forefront of the art scene at Brandeis.” She is in the works of organizing a table for the club to sell their pottery at the Bernstein Festival for the Arts in the spring, as well as pairing up with SCRAM and the Brandeis Farmer’s Club for future events. The club will also begin hosting studio hours next week on Feb. 2 from 2-4 p.m. and Feb. 3 from 9 a.m.-12 p.m., for anyone interested in creating pottery.

Rubel is also looking beyond the end of the spring semester. She is unsure whether or not Brandeis administrators are actively seeking out a ceramics studio for the club. For the sake of students who not only find the Pottery Club as an artistic outlet but also as a therapeutic community of creative minds, the administration certainly needs to pay more attention to this pressing issue.

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