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Arts Cultivating Young Professionals

Recently we’ve been writing about some of the excellent Work Ready opportunities ArtsRising has been able to connect youth to this summer.  In some cases the connection between students’ Work Ready experiences and their professional or academic goals may seem unclear.  Other times a connection is obvious. 


Even within the same work site, students can have drastically different takeaways from the same role.  This couldn’t be truer for Edison High School students, Tiera and Jacqueline, at The Clay Studio this summer.


The Clay Studio serves as a gallery, shop, school, and outreach education headquarters for ceramic art instruction throughout Philadelphia.  This summer, in an effort to place more students within creative economy industry roles, the Student Success Center at Edison High School with ArtsRising was able to connect two students to an opportunity to serve as Studio Assistants at The Clay Studio.


Tiera and Jacqueline have been involved in virtually every aspect of the studio in their roles.  From dismantling and assembling exhibits to assisting with summer camp clay instruction, these ladies have done it all in the Studio. 


“I didn’t know what I was getting into,” remarked Jacqueline when describing working with a summer camp group during her first week at The Clay Studio.  “I was tired, but it was fun.”


Tiera added that “it was hard because I was working with kids, but it was fun because I was learning as I was teaching.”


Indeed, some of the work the students were assigned seemed tedious at times.  “Scanning [documents] is boring,” Tiera deadpanned when asked what had been most challenging this summer.  We had a good laugh, after which their supervisor, the Studio’s Outreach Program Director, Annette Monnier, was quick to point out that knowing how to do boring administrative things is a valuable skill for making the arts marketable and successful.


Balancing art with program operations is something Tiera knows will serve her well.  As an aspiring fashion designer and soon-to-be graduate of Edison High School’s Culinary Arts program, she is well aware of the many administrative tasks that will support her creative endeavors. Over the course of the summer she has even been able to create and direct a stop-motion film, a claymation piece you can watch on the Studio’s YouTube page.


Jacqueline added that “working with different kinds of people” was the biggest transferable skill she has gained this summer.  Attending medical school in the fall, Jacqueline found it harder to connect the artistic side of her work this summer to her future career as a doctor. 


In our conversation, however, it was pointed out that the arts now are playing an increasingly important role in teaching future doctors and medical professionals the importance of empathy as a means of connecting with patients and creating therapeutic environments.


Both students recommend that you need to visit The Clay Studio.  “Just visit here!” insisted Jacqueline. “If you’re interested [in ceramics] this is the place to be,” added Tiera.


A walk through the gallery space they helped assemble will tip you off to the precision and professionalism they have exhibited all summer, a quality that has been enhanced by experience in an art industry position and is sure to take them far.


You can watch Tiera’s film here.


You can find out more about The Clay Studio here.