The Community Arts Program

The Community Arts Program specifically works with adult artists diagnosed with developmental, emotional and/or physical disabilities and implements services five days a week, all year long, developing each individual artist’s technique and skill.  Adult Day Training takes place every day which includes exercises and lessons in personal development such as advocating for one’s self or role playing on how to interface with the community.

The Art of Nutrition

Thanks to the generosity of Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Florida, in partnership with the Florida Literacy Coalition, Creative Clay has been presenting “The Art of Nutrition” weekly to its member artists. The program is able to happen because of a $5000.00 grant from Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Florida to execute an arts-themed educational initiative, designed to inform Creative Clay member artists about the importance of nutrition, health care, healthy living and self advocacy in the medical environment.

Member artists were surveyed prior to the program kick-off so as to ascertain the knowledge they had about these subjects. Based on survey findings, a curriculum was developed and is supported by attractive and informative textbooks provided by Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Florida.

Topics covered to date include healthy eating (the five food groups), determining what is a true emergency and the importance of knowing “911,” importance of drinking enough water daily, stretching and exercising, sketching still-life pictures of arranged fruit. Member artists have been treated to freshly-made smoothies, water tasting event demonstrating ways to flavor water to provide variety, a stretching demonstration, a Bingo game which reinforced the recognition of various fruits and vegetables, a visit from a Bayfront Medical Center R.N., and distribution and instruction on how to fill out an exercise log.

Periodic review occurs and we’re proud to say that our member artists are retaining much of the information presented to them thus far. But the best benefit, by far, is how excited they are each week to tackle the weekly “Art of Nutrition” topic. Thank you, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Florida and Florida Literacy Coalition, for allowing Creative Clay to be part of this healthy initiative!

The Sgraffito Project

The Pinellas Community Foundation has funded the Sgraffito Project at Creative Clay, which provides member artists with a wide range of Montessori materials designed to emphasize auto-didactic, hands-on learning, and spans a variety of subjects – including language, mathematics, science, geography, music, and art – because the learning of one subject helps to inform the others, creating a deeper, more comprehensive understanding, and reinforcing over-all education.

The title Sgraffito came from the art technique of the same name, which has traditionally been used with either paintings or ceramics. It involves a first stage of creating the layers within the artwork, a second stage of intentionally exposing portions of different underlying layers to create a unique, rich depth to the artwork. From the Italian word “sgraffito,” meaning “scratched,” this technique reveals the underlying colors of a piece of artwork, while at the same time creating a new image or texture. It is often only through artistic expression that people have a chance to reveal their true essence within their many different layers. This may apply even more so to those who have not had the opportunities and privileges to reach their fullest intellectual potentials as a result of developmental disabilities, physical disabilities, or mental illness. It is therefore Creative Clay’s goal to implement the Sgraffito Project as a way to expand our member artists’ opportunities for artistic expression through their own, primarily self-guided study of spatial relationships through the use of sensorial materials first used by Maria Montessori at the turn of the 20th century. With the proper studio environment and freedom to explore, the creators of Sgraffito believe this curriculum will enhance the quality of life for those it serves.

From 1899-1901, Dr. Maria Montessori worked with a group of children with developmental disabilities who had been warehoused in mental asylums in Italy.  She created highly specialized, sensory educational materials and a safe, clean, and beautiful environment in which the students could explore these materials.  After working with Montessori in that environment, these children –  whom had been set apart from the rest of society under the assumption that they were “defective” – learned to read and write so well that they successfully passed the public examinations alongside “normal” children.

“There is nothing in the intellect which was not first in some way in the senses,” and senses being explorers of the world, opens the way to knowledge.”

– Dr. Maria Montessori