Community Clay's History
Community Clay originated in the Art and Design Department at Adrian College, with the first classes taught in the fall of 1996. Classes were taught each semester and in the summer with over 50 students participating each year. The purpose of the program was to engender understanding and support for ceramic art through an energetic series of classes for adults from Lenawee County and the region. Students learned forming processes such as hand building and throwing on the potters’ wheel, and finishing processes including glazing, glaze formulation, and loading and firing of a variety of kilns.
Ultimately, through the twenty years that the program existed, many students returned for multiple classes and developed advanced skills. A special class was instituted in the last eight years that allowed Advanced Community Clay students to work more independently and on more mature projects of their own initiation. These students have participated in Art-A-Licious, both in teaching youngsters in the Throwing Tent and showing their own ceramics in the art fair. They have also donated wheel-thrown bowls and volunteer time to the Empty Bowls fundraising event that benefits our local Salvation Army. Community Clay has become an important force in the art community in Lenawee County and, due to the dedicated students and resident artists, it continues at the Adrian Center for the Arts.
The heart of Community Clay is its Resident Artists. These dedicated students live and work in Lenawee County and the region, and come from all walks of life. They have raised families here, established careers, made friendships and formed community ties. They are the backbone of this vibrant ceramic arts program, and will work tirelessly to see that it continues to grow and create positive change in our community.
If you are interested in becoming a Ceramic Resident Artist, you can view our application process and criteria by clicking the link below:
Meet the Resident Artists:
Kris Cravens - Community Clay Director & Instructor
Kris Cravens, head of the ACA ceramics program, began her career in fashion merchandising and design. Fifteen years ago, she began working in clay, and she added glass fusion to her work more recently. Currently represented by three Detroit galleries and a successful Etsy store, she has also participated in a number of art fairs including the Ann Arbor Art Fair and Art-A-Licious. Kris enjoys teaching ceramics, and she is a board member of the LCVA/ACA and a former board member of the Michigan Ceramic Art Association (MCAA).
Pi Benio - ACA Programming Director & Instructor
Pi Benio, ceramics instructor and LCVA/ACA Programming Director, taught ceramics at Adrian College for 36 years, winning several teaching awards. An active exhibiting artist herself, she maintains a studio in Adrian. Pi has shown her work in NYC, Chicago and Japan, and presented a one-person show at the Detroit Institute of Arts. A firm believer in the arts as a way to enhance our community she is active on the board of the LCVA/ACA and Art-A-Licious.
Laura VanCamp - Resident Artist & Instructor
Laura VanCamp was born and raised in the rural community of Reading, Michigan. She attended Adrian College, Adrian Michigan where she earned a Bachelors of Fine Art in Studio Art, Ceramics. She went on to earn her Master of Fine Arts in Studio Arts, Ceramics at the University of South Carolina completed in 2012. Upon her return to Michigan she has taught classes at Adrian College, Henry Ford College, and the Village Potter's Guild. This fall she will be teaching a Figurative Ceramics class at the Adrian Center for the Arts.
View Laura's work at www.vancampstudio.com
Amy "Sherock" Garno Anderson - Resident Artist & Instructor
Amy Garno Anderson received her BA and BFA in art at Siena Heights University in 2012 and 2013. She is currently working on her masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Siena Heights University and is expected to graduate in 2017. She is a mixed media artist and would like to incorporate art into her future counseling practice. Amy is the mom of Evan and Suzy Garno, and a grandmother of Tyson Martinez. Amy has taken Community Clay classes at Adrian Collage for several years prior to becoming a resident artist at the Adrian Center for the Arts in 2015. She met and married Jim Anderson, also a resident artist at the Adrian Center for the Arts, whom she met at Adrian College in Community Clay class. They both reside in Tecumseh, Michigan.
Jim Anderson - Resident Artist
Jim Anderson is a practicing psychologist at Chelsea Hospital in Chelsea, Michigan. He also has a private practice, Perspectives, in Tecumseh, Michigan, in which he takes clients in the evenings. He has taken Community Clay classes at Adrian College for several years prior to becoming a resident artist at the Adrian Center for the Arts. Jim loves to garden, relax on the lake, and be involved in Covenant Church in Tecumseh, Michigan. He and his wife, Amy, reside in Tecumseh, Michigan.
Rainey Bassemier - Resident Artist
Rainey Bassemier has been an avid member of Community Clay for many years. Nature photography and watercolors were his primary medium before he discovered ceramics. He has had a one-man show at the Black Door Gallery in Tecumseh and has also been seen in various venues including Kingman Museum, Kellogg Community College, Tampp Library, Battle Creek Federal Building and Hidden Lake Gardens. Rainey has been a dedicated volunteer at the Art-a-licious Throwing Tent for many years. He and his wife raised their family in Tecumseh, and he works for the Chelsea Milling Co, makers of “Jiffy Mix”.
Rita Coudron - Resident Artist
Rita Coudron has been a valued member of Community Clay since Pi Benio started it years ago at Adrian College.
Rita is a nature artist sculpting log forms into gorgeous tree lamps. She is a perfectionist when is comes to detailing bark. Her work is awesome and we are so happy to have her as a part of our community.
Steve Chesher - Resident Artist
Steve has lived his entire life in Adrian, Michigan except for attending college in Illinois on a full ride wrestling scholarship. Since 1988 Steve has worked in the Parks Department of the City of Adrian where he is a bit of a "Jack of all Trades" or as he likes to put it, a "Renaissance Man". Small engine repair, grass cutting, planting flowers, installing playgrounds, building fences, and repairing sprinkler systems are just some of the duties he has performed. Steve on occasion has used his artist talents in his job by painting signs and designing and creating lighted Christmas decorations for the city parks. Steve holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Illinois State University where he majored in art. His concentration at ISU was in printmaking. He began working in ceramics in 2009 when he joined the Community Clay classes at Adrian College taught by art professor Pi Benio. In 2015 Steve became a charter member and resident of the ceramics studio at the Adrian Center for the Arts. Steve is part of the kiln team at the Center. While working at the Art Center, Steve primarily creates pottery and is especially interested in creating large bowls. Raku is another special interest of Steve. He particularly enjoys the active process of raku firing and the challenges it presents. When not making pottery, Steve likes to create clay sculptures influenced by gargoyles and grotesques. Steve has exhibited his pottery and sculptures at the Adrian District Library, Art-a- licious festival in Adrian and at the Croswell Opera House art gallery. In the spring of 2016, Steve was commissioned by the mayor of Adrian to create an urn to hold the remains of victims of the Wabash train wreck in 1901. The Adrian Daily Telegram featured Steve and his urn in a front page article.
Kelly Forest - Resident Artist
Justin Cox - Resident Artist
Maria Kolin - Resident Artist
Amy Philp - Resident Artist
After retirement, Amy's search for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness landed her squarely at Adrian College where she learned the clay arts in Community Clay. She enrolled in Advanced Ceramics Studio Class with Pi Benio where she intensified her studies with a focus on figurative sculpture and portraiture. Having taught English in a former life, Amy's love of literature and its themes inspires her work. She continues to expand her
skills as an ACA Resident Artist, and is also the LCVA/ACA Volunteer Coordinator.
Amy has earned honors and awards at Adrian College, the Michigan Small Colleges
Exhibition, and the Michigan Education Association Art Acquisitions Purchase Exhibition in Lansing. She is a contributor to Kappa Kappa Epsilon Lenawee Community
Foundation's Charity Ball Festival of Trees and was awarded the Juror's Award in 2014. Amy donates her time coordinating Adrian's Art-a-licious Chair-ity fundraiser to benefit Art-a-licious youth art programs and is a demonstrating artist at Art-a-licious.