How a Cache Valley art studio is using clay to heal

Aug 25, 2023, 9:29 PM

PROVIDENCE, Utah — A new art studio in Cache Valley promotes inclusivity, safe spaces, creative learning and it’s using clay to heal.

Sterling Brown, owner of the Cache Valley Pottery Studio, saw a void in the community: there were numerous interested potters with nowhere to create.

The studio has gathered veteran pottery instructors and newcomers who have never touched clay in a beautiful melting pot of learning and growth.

“We are up and running teaching classes and hosting parties in this new space,” Brown said.  “Being around other fun and creative people, that is what really feeds my soul.”

Brown took a ceramics class in high school, which he said created a spark of hope in him.  After starting a family with his wife, Melinda, he held a few different jobs – and the pottery equipment went into storage.

“At that point, it was about two and a half years that I hadn’t been able to touch clay.  I realized, ‘Wow I really needed this.’  And I knew others needed this.  But the space didn’t exist.  So my wife and I created it,” Brown said.

Chanel Webb, a student at Cache Valley Pottery Studio, just completed a six-week class.

“I think human contact is something we have been missing for so long; everyone is on their phones.  Here, at the studio, you’re not on a phone.  Because your hands are in mud,” Chanel Webb said.   “Ceramics takes us down to our roots – it’s built into us.  And now the community gets to connect and take part.”

This studio in Providence has multiple rooms that can be rented out for gatherings, date nights, and private lessons.

In order to purchase 10 or 12 more pottery wheels, owners are hosting an open house on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be a raffle with multiple donation items from local businesses, a silent auction, free art activities for children, food, and wheel throwing for those wanting to get their hands in the clay.

The Cache Valley Pottery Studio is located at 585 West 100 North – Suite H in Providence.

“We would love to raise the money to purchase more wheels for independent potters who have the skillset, but no place to create and throw,” Brown said.

The studio also has an empty room that is open to the community for new adventures.

“We want to facilitate dreams.  We want to be a community connector,” Melinda Brown said.  “There are so many talented people out there who have incredible aspirations.  But the space, to bring those goals to life, is missing.  This room will provide that safe and dream-making space.  Already we have had people reach out who homeschool, those wanting to teach photography classes or provide dance instruction.  Really, we just want to provide an opportunity to turn ideas into realities.”

Rebecca Barney teaches classes at the Cache Valley Pottery Studio.  She addressed the increase in those seeking Art Therapy to help with mental health struggles.

“Depression at its core is the feeling of isolation from a community. This studio is designed to create connection,” Rebecca Barney said.  “Being able to make pots with their slight quirks and personalities and loving them for it – that is an act of self-love – because it’s your hands who made this.”

According to a Gallup Poll, more than 1 in 6 adults have depression as rates rise to record levels in the United States.

Barney said pottery teaches grounding and healing.

“Sitting down at the wheel is deeply personal because you have to work with so much failure,” Barney said.  “It is really therapeutic because you have to be comfortable in the moment of failure while recognizing the success of the journey.”

The Cache Valley Pottery Studio is working with the nonprofit ‘Jump the Moon’ to bring the arts to those of all abilities.

‘Jump The Moon’ brings art experiences to those with cognitive and physical disabilities.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Cache Valley Pottery Studio so we can give these special artists the feeling of clay,” Michael Bingham, Founder and Director of ‘Jump the Moon’ said.  “Even our artists who are nonverbal show the biggest smiles when given a chance to shine and create, and pottery is such a special experience.”

This studio has connected experts with novices and encircled those of all abilities.

John Westenskow taught Middle School for 36 years.  He retired as the pandemic began.

“This studio is an oasis!” Westenskow, who is now instructing at the studio, exclaimed.  “I was trying to do pottery out of my garage, but the winters are harsh here in Northern Utah.  This space is incredible.  I love teaching.  And I enjoy seeing people discover there are different ways to learn.  Many people learn in a visual, aesthetic, or musical way – this studio will speak to them.”

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How a Cache Valley art studio is using clay to heal