BALTIMORE — Sam Wallace is the jack-of-all-trades at Baltimore Clayworks. When he's not fixing equipment like pottery wheels, he's creating beautiful works of art out of clay and teaching others how to do it.
"My job is to let you leave happy because that's what we do here," he said with a big smile.
Wallace moved to Baltimore from Jamaica and started at Clayworks in 1991. He says his favorite part of the job is when he hears people say they are intimidated by clay or don't think they're talented enough to make anything with it.
"I love to laugh when they say things like that. I tell them my laugh is just joyful and my laugh is not demeaning," he said. "I know they're going to have fun because I'm going to show them, as much as they said 'I never touched clay', I'm going to show them how good they are."
That's part of the mission of Clayworks, to give people the confidence and know-how to develop and nurture their artistic side. They've been doing it for 40 years in Baltimore and are celebrating their anniversary with a number of different exhibits. The first one on display at the gallery is called "Past, Present and Future."
"It's a very diverse exhibition and a wonderful celebration of all the different types of art and artists that have experienced the space at Clayworks," said Cyndi Wish, the executive director of Clayworks.
Clayworks offers a variety of programs for people of all ages and abilities. They also have a residency program that brings artists from across the world to Baltimore, many of whom make the city their home.
"Most of the major institutions in Baltimore, Morgan, Towson, MICA, have faculty that have come to Baltimore for the residency program," said Wish. "So it helps the artistic ecosystem in Baltimore in doing what it does."
So at the very least, you can come, make a pretty ceramics piece and walk away with a sense of accomplishment. And if you keep at it, you'll find yourself feeling like Wallace does- having an appreciation for what they can do for the arts and what the arts can do for them.
"At Clayworks, you come here to enjoy and have fun and be creative," said Wallace. "If you're sad, come on in because we're gonna let you leave glad and happy."
There is an opening reception for "Past, Present and Future" on Saturday January 25. The display will be up until February 22 and some of the pieces on display are for sale.