Amid the many prominent attractions on Harvard’s Allston campus, including the $1 billion Science and Engineering Complex and the Harvard Business School, a small creative haven took root at Barry’s Corner decades ago: the Harvard Ceramics Program.
The Ceramics Program, under the purview of the College’s Office of the Arts, was founded by undergraduates in 1970 and officially joined the Faculty of Arts and Sciences in 1999. Today, 85 percent of the studio’s income derives from registration fees for ceramics classes, according to program director Kathy King.
“Barry's Corner is kind of like this meeting point of both Harvard and this general community, and I've been sitting here since 2013 watching it change,” King said. “Of course you have the Art Lab and SEAS and all that good stuff, but we've been here from the beginning watching it occur and watching it grow.”
Allston residents, as well as Harvard students, are welcome to sign up for courses at the studio, which range from beginners' pottery to advanced sculpture classes.
The Ceramics Program offers scholarships to expand its reach beyond Harvard, including the Peter Berry Scholarship, which provides financial assistance to adults enrollees, and the Ceramics Community Scholarship for Allston-Brighton Residents, which, in partnership with the Harvard Ed Portal, provides aid to adults living in Allston-Brighton.
The studio also hosts workshops and lectures with visiting artists and organizes free exhibits in Gallery 224, its exhibition space. King said these events have resumed following the height of the pandemic.
“We’ve had the door closed for so long because of Covid, so just having an exhibition opening a couple weeks ago — to have the food out, have the drinks, see people who we know live in the neighborhood come in — that was a wonderful feeling to get to see that again,” King said.
Thom Lussier, a resident artist at the studio, described the Ceramics Program as a welcoming atmosphere.
“The very first time I came to the studio, I pulled up to the back door with 47 glazed pots,” Lussier said. “I met Sarah, who's a staff member here, and we immediately connected, and she and Deighton helped me unload my car, and it went straight from my car into a kiln. I had never seen that happen before.”
“I just felt really welcomed. I felt like my work was really cared for — I felt really seen,” he added.
Megumi A. Kirby ’23 first visited the studio for a history class she took in fall 2021. Since then, she has enrolled in a basics class over the summer and a soda firing class this semester.
“I was just finding that while I was at school, because I concentrate in a STEM field, I didn’t have time built into my schedule for creative endeavors,” Kirby said. “After taking the class over the summer, I realized that it was important to me to maintain a schedule with my art.”
Diane Lulek, an instructor at the ceramics studio, said the classes are a great opportunity for students to pursue non-academic interests.
“I think because this is not for academic credit, this is a chance for people to come relax, have fun, and play, and experiment, try something completely new,” Lulek said.
Alexandra C. Kim ’22-’23, a Newton resident, started taking classes at the Ceramics Studio in high school and has stayed involved with the program in college. Kim, who is pursuing a secondary in Art, Film, and Visual Studies, has had her ceramic art featured at numerous local exhibitions and plans to showcase her work in the studio’s gallery this winter.
“Clay, at least in my opinion, is such a fun, workable medium,” she said. “I just wish that more students here knew about [the studio] and were able to enjoy it and have access to it.”
—Staff writer Danish Bajwa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Staff writer Michal Goldstein can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @bymgoldstein.