India Amos | Staff Writer
The Craft Center, Kenyon’s premier location for knitting, woodworking and everything in between, may very well be the College’s best hidden treasure. Situated in the unassuming gray former Art Barn on the northern end of campus that could almost blend in with the NCAs, the reputation of the Craft Center is quickly spreading to all members of the community.
Started as an Experimental College in the 1960s, the establishment was intended to give hands-on experience to students who wished to gain knowledge about subjects not addressed in the classic academic setting. Maria Rogers ’14, student manager of the Center, revealed why she thinks the Craft Center is so important to the Kenyon community.
“My favorite part about knitting class was spending two hours every week not thinking about schoolwork and just knitting with people,” said Gwendolyn Lloyd ’16 who took a knitting class with Marily Stokes. Rogers, who first heard of the Center during her sophomore year, quickly became involved with the Center’s ceramics class.
“Having [ceramics] as a non-academic class is so wonderful,” she said. “Just being able to focus on something that isn’t in a library or in another stressful environment is great. It’s really become a part of my Kenyon experience,” she said.
Rogers also acknowledged that the classes, while abundant themselves, only hold eight to 15 spots available for students. Working in conjunction with Assistant Manager Simone Holzer ’16, Rogers said one of her goals for this year is to make Craft Center classes more available to Kenyon students as well to the residents of Gambier.
“The classes are small by nature,” she says, “but we’re trying to find little ways that people can gain access to the Craft Center. We want everyone to be able to learn new skills and new techniques.”
They have been working toward this goal since September by bringing in special classes that meet for shorter periods of time and require less of a time commitment.
The Center was founded on the principle that Kenyon students and community members could gain access to quality, traditional programs, and Rogers wants to stay true to the Craft Center’s roots.
There are 10 classes currently taught at the Center for the spring semester, and every class is instructed by a master in the field. Kenyon prides itself in having as strong of a staff in its Craft Center as it does in its academic classrooms, and all students are guaranteed to learn crucial information about their craft of choice.
When asked about how the staff was picked, Rogers explained, “They kind of have a tenure because they have been here much longer than I have. And when they leave, they pick successors. They want someone who knows the craft in a broad sense, and they are looking for people who can teach their craft well.” Such a method helps ensure the quality of the class remains the same and that students are always learning as much as possible from the most qualified instructors available.
“Arts and crafts can sometimes get a reputation as a children’s rainy day activity, but learning from the instructors and learning about the history and the technique of the craft is a kind of pedagogical experience,” Rogers said.
She fully believes the Craft Center has become an integral part of Kenyon’s culture. In her opinion, such relaxing classes help students wind down after a rough exam or after writing a particularly long essay, while still keeping students stimulated.
Whether students wish to brush up on their cooking skills, learn to hem their jeans or begin learning a new skill like pottery or jewelry-making, the Craft Center has the staff and the accommodations to continue educating students. Sign-ups occur at the beginning of each semester, and all are encouraged to come and participate in a class.
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