The Artshack in Brooklyn is a women-owned-and-operated ceramics studio. It was founded in 2008 by McKendree Key and Dany Rose. We got to spend the day with a few of the artists who teach and make there including Laura Protzel, Alayna Wiley, Zena Pesta, and Ash Donnelly.
“Artshack is a community-based not-for-profit ceramics center. We use our creative skills to helps kids hone their own ideas. We then collaborate with our students to fabricate molds, and create casts of their work to sell in our shop. 100% of the profits from those casted replicas sold goes towards raising money for scholarships for kids to take art classes. We believe that all kids deserve access to quality arts education and strive to make that readily available to young artists in Brooklyn.” –Ash Donnelley of @artshackbrooklyn
Alayna Wiley is a ceramicist, an art educator, and a craft curator. When she’s not working at The Art Shack, she’s a studio assistant at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Her education is impressive and extensive. She’s studied at Oberlin College, Germantown Academy, and Harvard University to name only a few. Visit her website to take a closer look at her work.
“When I was a teenager, my wildest dream was to move to New York City to become a practicing ceramics artist and a fighter for social justice. I could only dream of running a nonprofit community ceramics art space in my neighborhood, I had been told by so many people that such a job didn’t exist. My advice to young women who want to make a difference in others’ lives or want to be artists, is to always push yourself to keep making things. Never allow yourself an excuse, we as women are never too weak to do or be anything we desire. Be confident in what you believe and what you want, and always consider the ways you can use your creative practice to make a difference in someone else’s life.” –@ashdonnellyceramic of The Art Shack in Brooklyn
“ArtShack has a really unique atmosphere. There is a strong community here of adults and children making art. Adults are inspired by the kids and vice versa. It was through this community that I found my own interest in clay. It sort of just fell into my lap, I am so glad it did.
I have been at ArtShack for about a year. I am currently the Director of the Kids Program. I design the curriculum and teach the weekday kids courses…
I am a 31 year old kid, so kids truly are my people. The best part of my job is getting closer with these young artists and learning from them. Kids have incredibly insightful perspectives on the world around them, that they bring to their ceramic creations. I feel so lucky to spend my days with a wonderful community of artists of all ages especially in these turbulent times.” –Laura Protzel of @artshackbrooklyn
“I’ve been working in Ceramics for 15 years! I had a very thorough education in ceramics at my undergrad in Cleveland, Ohio at the Cleveland Institute of Art under William Brouillard and Judith Salomon. So thorough, that the Pratt Institute hired me straight out of undergrad to run their Ceramics Department. At Pratt i taught undergraduate and graduate level courses, it was a great place to continue to pursue and share the alchemy of clay and glazes through chemistry and experimentation. While at Pratt I took time to travel to Jingdezhen China and participate in a Ceramic residency at the Pottery Workshop. This place is the incredibly wild porcelain capital of the world; 2.8 million people working in ceramics. The magical dirt of clay has also taken me to Australia where a great concentration of potters live!” -Zena Verda Pesta of @orangepopsiclesandle
The Artshack offers classes to children and adults. If you’re interested in learning more about hand building, wheel throwing, glazing, plaster mold making or slipcasting—head on over to @artshackbrooklyn for more info.