The Clay Studio of Missoula (CSoM) is a nonprofit community center for the ceramic arts. Our organization’s goal is to provide the general public with affordable access to high-quality ceramic art instruction. We strive to fulfill this goal by: 1) offering a wide array of ceramics classes and workshops to adults and children of all levels of skill; 2) providing local ceramicists with inexpensive access to studio space and professional quality equipment; 3) hosting resident artists from across the country who are able to share their ideas, experiences, and techniques with our students; and 4) holding monthly exhibitions of contemporary ceramic works in our studio gallery.
Founded in 1998, the CSoM was established to fill a void in Missoula’s growing community—the need for a comprehensive ceramic center where community classes could be held and where serious but less established ceramicists could access studio space and professional quality equipment at a reasonable cost. On March 1st, 1999 the CSoM was incorporated as a Montana non-profit corporation and a 501(C)(3) charitable entity recognized by the Internal Revenue Service.
As the only educational clay center in the Missoula area the CSoM has become an integral part of the local and statewide arts community. Evidence of our organization’s growth and vitality is the CSoM’s 2006 move to a permanent space three times the size of our initial location. The increased studio space allowed us to increase program, workshop, and special event offerings. Since our move we have established membership and class scholarship programs. The CSoM now holds community classes five days a week, and open studio time seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day. With the help of numerous dedicated volunteers, we built both an 8-ton soda kiln and a traditional, Japanese, wood-fired anagama kiln. Completion of both these kilns has enabled us to expand our course offerings to incorporate both unique firing methods. In addition, our expanded galleries now include monthly exhibition space as well as a sales gallery for works by our numerous studio artists.
The CSOM's involvement in the Missoula community-at-large and the Westside neighborhood where we reside has grown exponentially since our founding. Our studio now participates in an AmeriCorps internships program with the University of Montana, giving students work experience in the nonprofit sector. We have also established an after-school program at nearby Lowell Elementary with the generous funding of the Dennis & Phyllis Washington Foundation. The first installment of the program began in April 2010. At present, the Missoula Public School System is only able to offer its students professional art instruction once every five weeks. Given the positive benefits of art education, the CSoM hopes that the program will offer Missoula's youth expanded opportunities for professional art instruction. In the past, the CSoM has also reached out to the community by teaming up with fellow local nonprofit Garden City Harvest to hold Field-to-Pllate, a summertime fundraiser for both organizations. This event is in addition to our previously established annual POTSKETCH fundraiser, which incorporates drawings donated by local, national, and international ceramic artists.