The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

CU Potter’s Club debuts new space

Photo Courtesy of CU Potters’ Club

Tucked into one of Urbana’s homey neighborhoods sits the CU Potter’s Club. With its Germanic architecture, brick facade and bright windows, the club has sat as a staple in the Champaign-Urbana art community since the organization moved into the space in 2009.

CU Potter’s Club, in affiliation with C-U art organization 40 North, debuted its expanded studio space at the Boneyard Arts Festival. The festival lasted from Friday, April 12 to Sunday, April 14, opening local venues for artists to display and sell their works. 

The club opened its facilities to the public over the weekend for their biannual sale. The club sold pieces from its artists, with the profits going back to the club. They featured works by all of the potters within the club, with some members doing demonstrations of their work.

Tracy Cunningham, club member and membership chair, demoed stamping and glazing in the newly opened studio. 

“It’s amazing,” Cunningham said. “It has doubled our functional space that we have, it has increased our storage (and) it’s allowing us to expand to more members.”

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The waiting list for the club is currently at around 100 people. Cunningham herself had to wait a year to join, but the expansion will open the space up for up to 20 new members. 

“During COVID, we had more people that were trying to join the club than we’ve ever had, and we realized we had a need to expand, and so we’ve added over 1,000 square feet to our space,” Bruce Kloth, a community member and potter involved with the club, said. 

Since its creation in 1969, the club has fostered the artistic community in C-U. Formerly associated with the Champaign Park District, CU Potter’s Club declared itself a not-for-profit in 2006 before moving to the current space three years later.

The club provides a coveted space for those interested in a more hands-on art form. The club allows anyone to apply for their waiting list — from people with one year of high school art experience to former ceramics teachers. 

“I haven’t seen a lot of spaces like this, a cooperative space that is really run by the members,” Cunningham said. “It offers a space, a creative space, for people that are interested in ceramics.” 

The Potter’s Club is a unique space in its functionality, run by members who sit on different committees. These committees are dedicated to clay, cleanup, firing, glaze and sales. 

Club members also manage membership and perform duties like treasurer and secretary. This allows the artists to control how their space is run, working with each other to build a place where everyone feels comfortable. 

“We’re a group of people that kind of feed off of everybody else, we learn from everybody,” Kloth said.

The club’s communal workspace and collaborative environment help draw in artists with the promise of a unique creative space. 

“It’s amazing how much interest there is in pottery in this town. When we have our sales, there’s a lot of people who come out,” Kloth said. 

The CU Potter’s Club is run by artists, for artists, with an emphasis on community and use of the shared space. The profit generated by their pottery sales goes back to the club to provide an affordable studio with long-term access, encouraging people to pursue their passions. 

“This has allowed me to continue a passion, something that is very meditative — it’s a creative outlet,” Cunningham said. 


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