Crafting Ceramic Mementos


by Carla Juarez, Development Assistant

Inside the ceramics studio, with instructor Mike Russo, a group of Smart Start Elementary children chat about how they want their newest clay creations to look. Like Dr. Frankenstein, the kids will create and mold their own pumpkins to take home for Halloween. Each year, HOLA students get into the holiday spirit and turn these grey clay balls into their own work of art. There are no strict rules because these projects are more about self-expression and coming together to have fun. By crafting these keepsakes, students immerse themselves in the art of building and designing with their bare hands, literally creating something beautiful out of dirt.

Juan Pablo is in his first year at HOLA. He heard about HOLA through his cousins who had been attending HOLA for a couple of years. Interested in doing something after school, Juan Pablo enrolled with two other cousins, and they all attend ceramics class after their homework support time. In ceramics, they have taken their creations in all sorts of unique directions, noting how they are very excited for Halloween this year to share what they’ve made with the rest of their family.


Living in the same apartment building, Juan Pablo and his cousins will join in the Halloween festivities together and go trick or treating with their small pumpkins to show around to their neighbors. Every year, trick-or-treaters have recognized a ceramics pumpkin on display in another apartment in the neighborhood and realize they are fellow HOLA students.

Some students like Ileen prefer showcasing their pumpkin in the living room of their apartment. She proudly explains how ceramics is her favorite class because they “get to make vases or other things that you can create yourself and place on the window.”


Then there are other students who have decided that this year they will give their ceramic piece away to someone special. One student particularly enjoyed making ceramic art for others because “it was a very special moment for me to give my mom something I made.”


As the holiday seasons begins, good cheer, delicious food, and art abound at Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA). Often times we think of organizations such as HOLA existing solely within its campus walls, however as students from different schools come here to enjoy and learn, they empower and strengthen their community. We learn that HOLA’s values live far beyond our campus. They are passed down from friend to friend, relative to relative, stranger to stranger, just as you would a ceramic pumpkin.


October 23, 2018