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JCC hosts MudGirls PopUp shop and exhibit

  • Downbeach

From left, MudGirls Maryanne, Donna and Tajah.

By NANETTE LoBIONDO GALLOWAY

MARGATE MudGirls Studios, an Atlantic City based nonprofit that provides women with confidence building skills and employment, held a pop up shop and artists' reception Wednesday evening at the Milton & Betty Katz JCC on Jerome Avenue.

Residents and supporters milled about sipping wine and noshing small bites as they admired the unique designs. Those who attended learned about the artistic process in creating the ceramic decorative items and purchased plates, vases, pitchers, cups and jewelry made by the women at their studio at St. Michael's Church in Atlantic City.

Our goal is to give women who are unemployed or otherwise not connected to the community a sense of self-worth, belonging and an income, designer and program founder Dorrie Papademetriou said.

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The women attend an eight-week program to learn how to make custom crafted ceramic pieces but many stay on to work indefinitely, including Donna, Tajah and Maryanne, who work at the studio from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. four days a week.

It's very relaxing work and always exhilarating when you finish a product and know the glazing will be done perfectly, Donna said. Art is a process and making ceramics from white and red clay includes cleaning up too.

Dory teaches us new things every day. Today it was self-portraits in clay, said Tajah, who has taken the lead as student manager helping to plan ceramics workshops for community groups.

She is planning a workshop with the Mighty Writers after school program, and another for a women veterans group, Papademetriou said. We design projects to take on the road and engage other groups in 'making.'

The program prepares women for the future, whether it be the workforce or back to school, Papademetriou said. MudGirls also provides the women with social services, healthcare, transportation and in some instances, housing.

The nonprofit is funded through the sale of ceramic decorative items and gifts at pop ups like the one held at JCC, and on the MudGirlsStudios.org website. The organization also does custom ceramic tilework projects, such as those installed at Stockton University's Atlantic City campus, Ocean Casino and AtlantiCare.

We bounce dreams off each other and explore designs that will sell in the marketplace. We don't want to create things that will price ourselves out of the market, Papademetriou said.

The organization also boasts a great group of volunteers who assist in the studio and at community events.

We help the women with glazing, packaging and whatever else they need, but the women do all the clay work, Marcy Cyter of Norhfield said. Our organization gives them social support, meditation and more. It's a community within a community. All the women and the volunteers get very close.

The exhibition will be on display at JCC until the end of March.

https://youtu.be/uDnGuUJrWGs?si=XUdTvs2_IEC_h0HV

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