Charleston Women Summer 2024

74 | | From places like the Czech Republic, to China, to Japan and beyond, archaeologists have discovered copious clay pottery figurines and shards. Some of these fragments and artifacts are estimated to date as far back as 29,000 B.C.E. In the ancient cultures such as these, as well as Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece and the Roman Empire, clay pottery was used to make plates, bowls, cups and vessels for storing wine, beer, water and olive oil. In more modern times, local enslaved people were tasked with digging for clay, molding it and baking it into the bricks that built our historic homes. Visitors can still see the old kiln used for brickmaking at Brickyard Plantation in Mount Pleasant. Today, pottery is a big business in Charleston and every one of our pottery studios are owned by women. VANESSA STEELE, The Art Place Studio As founder of The Art Place Studio, Vanessa Steele, quoted from an unknown source, “I believe that when you hold a lump of clay in your hands, you connect with 10,000 years of history. When you fire a pot made of clay, you create 10,000 years of history.” Steele is passionate Vanessa Steele of Art Place Studio Women in Clay BY SARAH ROSE Charleston Women in the Arts about teaching ancient craft, helping students to become artists, while building a strong clay community. “Clay is for everyone,” said Steele, who prides herself on hand-building. “No matter what your skill level is, you’re going to leave here with a piece that you love.” Maria White with one of her artistic clay creations.