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Matthews, students dig their own clay for Arts Center pottery class

by Ellis Widner | June 30, 2019 at 2:35 a.m.
James Matthews teaches a course he called “Wild Clay” at the Arkansas Arts Center. This vessel was made from clay dug from the ground during street work near the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s building on Capitol Avenue. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/CARY JENKINS)

James Matthews loves wild clay and urban walks.

The documentary artist studied ceramics at the Arkansas Arts Center and teaches a class he calls "Wild Clay." In it, students find and dig their own clay.

"We walk around a few inches above clay at all times," he says. "It's dirt to us, but there is a possibility to make something, an object that carries its own meaning and use." One of the pots he made came from clay found in a street repair across from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette building.

Matthews also has led walks, one of which follows Interstate 630.

"I've long been interested in 630 as a dividing line. It's not only a physical dividing line, it's also an economic, social and racial dividing line as well. My intention on these walks is to metaphorically stitch this city back together. It's about 15 miles total, but you add a lot of distance zigzagging, going over or under the interstate at each chance so you make this stitch-like route through middle of Little Rock."

-- Ellis Widner

Style on 06/30/2019

Print Headline: Artist digs his own clay to tell history of the city

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