Pottery-Making Day Enchants Youth Participants at Bethany Children’s Home

Each youth learned how to create pottery during the workshop. Photo credit: Linda Aragon

For a dozen or so youth at Bethany Children’s Home in Womelsdorf, Pa., July 15 was extra special. The youth were treated to a special pottery-making day, thanks to Linda Aragon, Bethany’s art instructor, who hosted visiting artist Hadley Wiktor. Wiktor, who specializes in ceramics and fiber arts, led three groups of youth in pottery workshops over the course of the day.

Some of the youth attending the sessions had no experience making pottery, or doing “wheel throwing” (throwing and shaping an object on a pottery wheel). But by the end of the day, everyone had successfully made a bowl.

Aragon says she developed the idea from her own experiences while pursuing a bachelor of fine arts degree at Kutztown (Pa.) University. “I was presented several opportunities to meet and work with professional visiting artists,” she says. “Those experiences were imperative to my education and personal growth. I wanted to provide Bethany Children’s Home youth with that same opportunity.”

Each session had 3-5 youth so that Wiktor could give adequate attention to each participant. “Visiting Bethany was such a pleasure,” she says. “I wasn’t sure what to expect, but everyone was so kind, from the children I worked with to all of the workers I met.”

Artist Hadley Wiktor and Art Instructor Linda Aragon. Photo credit: Dana Hoffman

Both Aragon and Wiktor agree that the best part of the sessions was that all of the youth achieved their goals.

“The best part of each session was when each youth achieved the goal of making a pottery bowl … even when they thought they wouldn’t be able to!” says Aragon.

Wiktor adds that she enjoyed watching the youth realize they could actually accomplish the task. “I think the most rewarding part of visiting was the ‘ah-ha’ moment when the children were wheeled throwing,” she says. “There were multiple children who weren’t sure they would successfully be able to throw a bowl, but each student was able to. They realized that with practice, they also could create forms on the wheel.”

Every participant was able to successfully create a bowl. Photo credit: Linda Aragon

Bethany’s art department provides a variety of art-related groups and individual sessions to youth, from pottery and fused glass to paintings and mixed media projects. In addition to the relaxation, creativity and skill-building that such projects create, Bethany youth also use their art projects to explore emotions and current life events, and to develop coping skills.

For Aragon, the pottery session was one of those unique ways to reach out to the youth residents of Bethany. “As the art instructor, I believe it is important to provide the youth with the best and most well-rounded art education, as well as new experiences,” she says. “Having Hadley here was new and exciting for them. They were able to come and learn new skills that they are still applying today.”

The pottery day was just one of many activities Aragon hopes to schedule. Future activities will include additional visiting artists, demonstrations, workshops and — eventually — museum and gallery trips.

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