Park City studio encourages patrons to get their hands dirty
May 1, 2015
Heather Levy had a successful career.
She was working in the human resources department for American Express in New York City. Her life was happy. She was content.
But on Sept. 11, 2001, her world changed. The tragedy made life seem precious. She began to question whether she wanted to spend the rest of hers in an office.
"It really made me wonder, ‘What if tomorrow was my last day?’" she said.
Levy soon told her husband she wanted to do something different. He said he would support her in anything she did. But her search for a passion took her in an unexpected direction.
"I know he thought I was going to go into advertising, marketing, publishing, something like that," she said. "But I took a clay class and it was, I’m not kidding, a revolution in my life. It was overnight. I was like, ‘This is what I want to do.’"
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Levy has since devoted her life to making clay art. She traveled the country for two years going to workshops, eager to soak up any experience she could find.
"I went into places, saying, ‘I’ll work for free.’" she said. "’I just want to learn. I’ll mop your floors, I’ll muck your clay, I’ll do the grossest jobs on the planet. I just wanted to learn it. It sounds really corny, but it was like it was always there and I just found it late."
Now, Levy has become the teacher. She recently opened Clayhouse Studios, a teaching gallery for the ceramic arts, at 1241 Center Drive in Newpark.
The gallery specializes in teaching pottery, as well as sculpture and handbuilding, a technique in which artists use their hands and simple tools. It holds two-hour, six-week and eight-week classes — which are available for a range of age groups, including children — and offers memberships for more advanced artists. This summer, the studio will also hold workshops each month featuring professional artists.
Levy is unclear what, exactly, drew her to clay. She has experimented with other artistic media, such as silk painting and glass, but said that clay is the only one "that speaks to me."
She has found that her artistic style varies, depending on which method she’s using. When she’s using a pottery wheel, her work is simple and refined. Making sculptures, however, allows her to access her whimsical side, with a hint of darkness.
"I kind of have a very eclectic voice," she said.
While Levy loves working with clay, she is equally passionate about sharing her knowledge with others.
"It would be nice to share your love for anything with anybody that is willing to listen," she said. "But to see the progress these guys are making, to see their work evolve and change, and to be able to help them and guide them, is incredible."
The studio has been a hit since opening, Levy said, adding that Park City is the perfect place for a clay studio. The highlight for her has been interacting with other people who are passionate about clay.
"People that are clay artists or who love clay are the coolest people on the planet," she said. "We all have a lot in common, it seems like. We all love cooking, we all love the outdoors and we all love things from the earth. It’s a like-mindedness that I don’t think you find anywhere else. You become this community of like-minded people. We’re all friends and it’s really cool."
Another aspect that Levy enjoys is seeing what different people create, even when given the same instructions.
"At the end of the project everyone’s is completely different," she said. "I don’t think you get that in a lot of art forms. That’s a clay thing. That’s something between the clay and that person and their creativity and god knows what else — the universe that taps in somehow. That’s amazing to me."
Clayhouse Studios is offering a buy one, get one free promotion on all of its classes. For more information, visit the studio’s website at clayhousestudios.com.
1241 Center Drive