CU Potters’ Club offers creative outlet for community
March 11, 2020
With around 50 members who share the love of pottery, the local CU Potters’ Club has been in the area for nearly 51 years. Currently, the club is located at 900 S. Race St. The Daily Illini spoke with Cathy Cunningham, club historian, who has been involved with different organizational parts of the club, including the glaze committee.
The Daily Illini: When did the club begin?
Cunningham: The club began in 1969. We just celebrated our 50-year anniversary this past October. Our celebratory exhibit, called “CLAY & FIRE: 50 Years of Hands, Wheels, Community and Creativity,” just ended. We had it up as an exhibit from Feb 9 to March 7, and it was great. It’s amazing to think that it has been that long, and we, as a club, have been able to provide this service to our community.
DI: What kinds of things does the club offer? What is included in the membership?
Cunningham: The club offers a studio space for both beginner and skilled potters. We work on a trimester schedule, which is spring, summer and fall. There are only a limited amount of spaces and memberships we can give out at this point because of the size of the studio and current members continuing to be a part of the club. You get 24/7 access to the studio as well as time with the kiln. We have a bunch of glazes and different tools that a member can use, which I think is a great opportunity for people who want to have more one-on-one time and practice. There is no time limit to creating something as there would be in a class that is only a few hours long.
DI: Now, in the present, what kinds of things has the club done recently? I know the CU Potters’ Club is a very prominent institution in the community.
Cunningham: We really pride ourselves in being an active member of the Champaign-Urbana community. We often will participate in community events. For example, the Empty Bowls Fundraiser is something that we often participate in, where we provide at least 50 bowls for that fundraiser, which is always something that we love to do.
DI: What, to you, is the importance of the CU Potters’ Club to the community?
Cunningham: I think, as far as what the CU Potters’ Club does for the community, is that it provides a studio space for people who have some experience in ceramics and be able to explore that more. We’re not a production studio, and our members know that we all have roles to keep the studio alive and making it a space that reflects how we all feel about ceramics.
DI: Why do you love to be a part of CUPC?
Cunningham: I love being in the Potters’ Club because I love being a part of something where all members really have a love and appreciation for working with ceramics. We are solely managed by the members, so I really enjoy the sense of responsibility that comes with us all pitching in at the studio and creating great things.
DI: Where do you see the club in five years?
Cunningham: At this point, we are all really happy with the balance we’ve got. In a perfect world, I would like the club to expand and to make it more accessible to the public. In this community, we feel like anything is possible.