When Kirsten Bassion received a master’s degree in ceramics from the School for American Crafts at Rochester Institute of Technology in 2004, she knew she wanted to give back to her community through education. Two years later, with friend and fellow potter Doreen Mastandrea, Bassion opened a small studio in Lynn, Mass., that would later become the Clay School.
“We started out really small,” Bassion says of the business, which is located 30 minutes north of Boston. “Now we have five classes of adult students. We teach inner-city kids. We have workshops and teach kids all summer. We basically run what we consider a small, professional college program that is very much associated with the community.”
Since its launch, the Clay School has received widespread praise for the quality of instruction that students receive. Bassion and three other teachers — all accomplished artists — offer courses.
“[My colleagues] have tons of experience,” Bassion boasts. “We’re all in different museums and galleries nationwide. The quality of the teaching is really good, which means the students who come in get so much. They are getting a college education in ceramics.”
The Clay School’s open studio policy and flexible hours are designed to support aspiring and established artists alike, she says.
“If you’re a teacher and can only get here at 5 a.m., then you are welcome,” Bassion explains. “So, it’s like a very self-directed graduate studio setup. But because of that, we put in a lot of work. Between myself and my one tech, we are there every other day loading two kilns. And those are the only two kilns we have. We are at capacity. The only way we’re going to be able to grow is if we get another kiln.”
Bassion recently entered Intuit’s Small Business Growing Strong campaign in the hopes of getting funding for a third kiln. “We have outgrown our two electric kilns and are in desperate need of a new one,” she noted in her wish entry.
This week, she received the call she had been hoping for: Intuit will grant the Clay School’s wish for a new kiln.
“This is so incredible!” Bassion says. “This means we will be able to offer more classes to the community and get more work out. It’s going to take the pressure off all of the professional artists in the studio and the teachers.”
Intuit’s Small Business Growing Strong campaign is announcing one winner a day through May 24, 2013. Check out the list of current winners and find out whether we’ve granted your wish!
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