In 2006 under the far-sighted leadership of the College of Borrego's Adult Education Program, the Pottery Program was created. After arranging for a large outdoor space on School District grounds the College and its patrons bought and donated the equipment necessary to open a working and teaching pottery studio. Ginger Dunlap-Dietz, a potter from Syracuse, NY was on hand to manage and organize the Pottery from the beginning.
In 2013 the College of Borrego handed the sponsorship of the Pottery over to the Borrego Art Institute. In addition to continuing the on-going programs, in 2014 BAI initiated its first Celebration of Clay and Glass Show. The annual exhibition has transformed into a show called Celebrating Earth's Elements which features works in clay, glass, wood, metal, and fiber, and highlights local artists and introduces the work of artists from around Southern California.
Over the fourteen winter/spring seasons the Pottery Studio has been open, it has grown; new equipment includes a raku kiln, new storage structures, materials, and new workshops. We are very proud of the significant group of people who have discovered the joy of working with clay and have made the studio a special place.
Some have taken what they learned back to their homes in other locales and built their own pottery studios; some make the Pottery a focus of their seasonal time here in Borrego Springs. Each year the Pottery is able to maintain limited summer hours.
Under the guidance of the Borrego Art Institute, community awareness of the Pottery program is growing. With the assistance of interested donors, the goal this year is to build a new year-round facility for clay as a part of the ARTPARK at BAI.
We expect that the future will bring a year-round presence, new guest artists, more workshops and increased interest in the clay medium and the art of ceramics.
CELEBRATING THE ARTS IN BORREGO SPRINGS
A National Endowment for the Arts funded mural at the Borrego Art Institute
Story of the Community Tiles: Their place in the Borrego Art Institute Mural
The first appearance of what are now called Community Tiles was in Expressions in Clay, 2008, the exhibition of clay at Borrego Art Institute in its original location in the Mall. The show included clay work by a number of Borrego artists.
Artists from the newly formed Borrego Pottery were at work hand building and throwing on the potter’s wheel for visitors to see how pottery is made. In addition there were large rolled slabs of soft clay for visitors to imprint with natural items like nut shells, stones, plants, branches, fingers, etc.
These slabs were then cut up into 4” tile shapes. The 75 or so tiles were bisque fired for later glazing.
Over the next several years they were joined by tiles made the same way by the artist members at an Art Guild luncheon and at the Pottery’s Annual Holiday Open House by attendees and resident artists. In the the last 10 years members of the Pottery and the community have created more than 200 tiles.
The Mural is born:
These existing tiles became the inspiration for a larger grant project in 2016 and started the process of evolution for the approximately 224 square foot permanent work of art celebrating the arts in Borrego Springs. An award of a $10,000 matching grant from the National Endowment for the Arts has inspired and enabled the community of Borrego Springs, California to create a beautiful clay, glass and steel mural for the exterior south wall of the Borrego Art Institute.
Headed up by the Pottery Studio DIrector, Ginger Dunlap Dietz, the process began with a 5-member team, designing the concept and broad outlines for the mural, and then brainstorming about the theme of the Arts in Borrego Springs and the parts of our art-rich environment that they wanted to include. The team decided on pottery, sculpture, painting, written word, music, film-making, photography, theater, architecture, glass work, dance, and flower and nature study. Quirky expressions of creative imagination inevitably appeared to add to the artistic subjects depicted in the project.
The concept was announced to the pottery community and local arts organizations. Participants sketched their ideas and then started turning their sketches into clay. Many different techniques - hand building, slabbing, carving, wheel work, and under glaze painting - were used with the clay to convey these ideas so that they would be clear to others. The creation of the mural art, predominately in clay, was done at the Borrego Art Institute Pottery Program’s temporary outdoor studio on the property of the Borrego Springs High School.
Once the pieces were glazed and fired, individual panel installation began. While the year-long process of sketching, planning, creating in clay, firing and glazing took place at the outdoor studio, the installation, assembly and fabrication of the mural panels occurred in a large donated indoor space located in a commercial store front allowing the images to be assembled on each panel as clay and glass elements were finished. At the same time, this public space also provided members of the wider community an opportunity to watch the progress of completing the mural panels and to participate in the process if they felt inspired to do so.
Mounting the mural pieces onto steel framed weather-resistant boards was an ongoing process as individual elements were completed for sections of the mural. Each panel evolved as its parts were completed and mosaic and grouting could occur. Because there were so many stages going on at one time it gave the participants a hands-on opportunity to learn, or at least observe, the steps involved in putting up such a large piece of art. Another benefit of this process is that many of the people involved learned new skills related to clay and mosaic, such as cutting, gluing, grouting, cleaning and polishing.
Over 150 members of the community participated in large and small ways in the process of planning, creating and installing this surprising and memorable piece of art. In addition, supporters of the project donated in excess of $10,000 to match the National Endowment for the Arts grant.
The completed lighted mural was unveiled to a large crowd in a public ceremony on Saturday March 23, 2019. Close to 200 people attended while Ginger narrated the story of the mural.
Celebrating the Arts in Borrego Springs will be available both day and night for community residents and many visitors to enjoy, drawing attention to the importance in Borrego Springs of art in all its forms for a long time in the future.