Clay Work

Maple Hall Academy proudly offers ceramic arts to enhance our students’ skills in self-expression and emotional regulation. Our master potter, Keith Prince, provides students opportunities to create objects that represent thoughts, emotional themes, feelings, and experiences. Further, the newly created item may act as a springboard for further exploration by the child’s therapist. Engaging in the journey of the art process provides our students insight and opportunity to develop and strengthen skills, with a sense of control often not felt in other areas of their life.

The Power of Clay

Artistic Expression

In the article below taken from, Therapeutic Qualities of Clay-work in Art Therapy: A Review, Sholt and Gavron; 2006, reveals the therapeutic impact of how working with clay helps unlock a new and often revealing way of communication for our students.

Clay-work involves an intense and powerful tactile experience of touching and haptic involvement. Touch was identified as one of the first sensory responses to develop in humans (Frank, 1957; Montagu, 1978). Tactile contact is actually the first mode of communication that an infant learns. For humans, the early stages of life are dominated by contact between an infant and caregiver (Hunter & Struve, 1998). Thus, clay-work involves a very primal mode of expression and communication.

Touch in clay-work also requires body movements in endless opportunities for touching and modeling. Thus clay-work makes possible an entire non-verbal language or communication for the creator, through which his or her mental realm, emotional life, and primary object relations can be expressed. We chose to use concepts from attachment and object-relation theories to describe the inner processes that are relevant to clay-work. The central assumption of attachment theory is that humans form close emotional bonds with others (Bowlby, 1969, 1973, 1979, & 1980).

Master Potter, Keith Prince, instructing students

Real Connection

Clay-work taps into primary modes of communication and expression (e.g. through touch), and is thereby linked to actual past memories and feelings that were encoded through touch and movement. In this respect, clay-work could function as a central window to these unconscious, nonverbal representations and may be especially helpful with people who find it hard to express themselves verbally or who are very defensive.

Student Clay Work Gallery