Written by Rory Donohue
College of Fine Arts Communications Intern Rory Donohue joined the Clay Club for a recent meeting and interviewed President Kierra Korpolinski to learn more about how these talented students are molding bright futures in the arts.
Florida State University’s Clay Club is a student group with a passion for ceramics. The organization’s president Kierra Korpolinski (BA ‘24) has big goals for the organization and its outreach.
Around this time last year, the Clay Club looked a lot different. “There were like 5 to 6 people,” says Clay Club president Kierra Korpolinski, “it was a super technical group.” A fourth year undergraduate student in the Department of Art with a focus in Ceramics and Printmaking, Kierra got involved in Clay Club and attended a National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) conference with the team, falling in love with it. “I thought, ‘Oh, I want to expand this to anyone whose interest is piqued when they hear ceramics or clay.’”
Now, Clay Club is reaching a wider audience. The ceramics lab in FAB 0103 hardly has enough chairs for the 30 or 40 students who showed up for their third meeting of the semester. This meeting focused on maker’s marks, the small stamps crafted by potters to sign their work. While clay club treasurer Savannah meted out pieces of clay, members drifted into the studio, in a state of quiet anticipation. Savannah and Kierra had brought a lot of their own tools to the event.
Kierra recalls what first drew her to FSU’s studio art program, saying that she needed a community space, somewhere to be supported. The club continues this idea of solace and support, with a strong emphasis on community. The lab bristled in conversation as we whittled away at the clay tablets, talks of concerts, friends and travel. Some carved cats while others carved ampersands.
Club members use the meeting time to work on the week’s special project as well as work on other projects. While most members were carving their makers marks, others were throwing on potter’s wheels. This reflects the ethos of the club. “We’re coming up with plans on the spot. It’s about facilitating creativity and then letting everyone do what they need to do.” Kierra gave a throwing demonstration to a small group of huddled potters and centered our clay for us, helping out those of us who clearly had never sat on a squat stool to spin some wet rock. Surprisingly, I had learned basic throwing techniques after carving my own maker’s mark. I was thrilled and tired.
Kierra has big goals for the organization. “I feel like there’s a really severe deficit of knowledge of fine arts and what ceramics is,” she says, “I want to make it more accessible to those who are interested.” A big part of that education are the meetings, but also what goes on outside of them. “We can host exhibitions. We can do fundraisers for local charities, or conventions,” something Korpolinski believes are essential to art students. “If you want a career in the arts, you need to attend conventions,” she stated. “They purposefully facilitate conversations, connections and education.”
“The goal is to attend the NCECA conference each year,” says faculty advisor Marty Fielding who has been involved since 2017. “When I see this type of excitement about clay, I am always eager to encourage and support their passion for ceramics.” It seems that the passion for ceramics can only grow within this student organization.
This Spring, Clay Club will meet at the Department of Art’s Ceramics Lab Studio (FAB 0103) from 6:00-8:30 P.M. on Friday nights. Meeting subjects include various ceramic techniques and practices and have a suggested donation of $5. They can be found on Instagram at @clayclubfsu. Follow them there to stay up to date on their events and learn about ceramics sales on campus, where you can buy their work.