Renovations in Roberts Dining Hall lead to changes in pottery studio’s physical space and will increase foot traffic

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If one were to walk out of Roberts dining hall and down the hallway, they would stumble upon what looks like a closed door in the dimly lit basement of Roberts. Once they open the door, however, they find a fully furnished pottery studio where students can create artwork as well as relax.

For the 100 or so students and staff that are members of the College’s Pottery Club, the studio is a haven and “a place to relax and hang out for many of us,” said Jacob Zhang ’16, the president of the club. He added, “Because of its 24/7 availability, the pottery studio is a great resource for students who are interested in pottery-making, especially for those who haven’t had much experience.

This year, the physical space of the studio changed due to the renovations occurring in Roberts Union to transform the building into student housing. The construction includes narrowing the studio by three feet to widen the outside hallway for the dorm. In the process, some items key to the studio were lost.

These changes required the club advisors to work with the Physical Plant Department to move everything out of the studio for the renovations, and then back in after the renovations were complete. However, while “[the changes] sound quite awful for the pottery studio, [they] actually haven’t posed any major threat to the use of the space,” said Zhang.

Nancy Meader, one of the three club advisors, added, “I think we have readjusted the furniture so that we have a workable space once again…. We are getting the studio back in order.”

Meader has been creating pottery for over 40 years and originally created Colby’s pottery studio for a Jan Plan course in 1969. Meader works with Temporary Secretary Jeanne Berger and Administrative Secretary Carole Evans to run the studio. Together, they are in charge of ordering clay, chemicals, and other supplies needed in the studio, as well as mixing glazes, firing the kilns and keeping the equipment in order for club members. They also actively helped in the transformation of Roberts into a residence hall by helping PPD design the renovations for the studio.

Besides physical changes to the studio, club advisors and members should also expect more visitors to the space. Zhang said, “I think, in general, it will be beneficial to the growth of the club, as the studio’s location near one of the major entrances of Bobs can bring some unexpected traffic to the space.”

Meader added, “[I’m] concerned about evening activities involving non-members without supervision.” Before joining the club, members are required to sign a contract, which outlines their responsibilities to keep the place in order. Meader’s concern is that students that are unfamiliar with the club’s expectations and policies might misuse the studio. Additionally, with the Security Office’s move to another building, the club also needs to address the fact that the key will have to be picked up from another building before being brought to the studio in Bobs.

While there are currently no plans in motion to change the location of the studio, there are certainly studio goers that hope to have an improved space in the future. When asked about potential location changes for the studio, Meader said, “I have not heard about any plans in the future to change the location. We did like the space we had a few years ago next to the Steam Plant when the studio was made into the Pub for one year during renovations to Cotter Union.”

Meader continued, “I wouldn’t be against a change; however, the two large kilns take quite a beating when they are moved, and they cost more than $3,000 each to be replaced.” Zhang added, “[I]hope that we can have a bigger space and more reliable wheels!”

While the College has traditionally offered pottery as a Jan Plan course, students are asking about the possibility of offering courses during the regular semester.

Zhang is among this group. He said, “In my opinion, pottery has been presented as slightly detached from the rest of the art department.” He continued, “As an art major who enjoys pottery, I would love to see more courses designed that integrate pottery as one of the most common, yet very dynamic and creative genre of fine art.” If this were to happen in the future, “[It] would require creating a second studio since there is not enough … space to have a club and a class in the same studio,” said Meader.

While Meader is not offering a Jan Plan course on pottery this  coming year, the studio will be open all of January. For information on how to join the club, contact Jacob Zhang at zzhang@colby.edu.

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