ArtShack Brooklyn

Creative ceramics and critical thinking collide at the after-school program

Encouraging kids to put down their phones and get creative, Brooklyn-based program ArtShack extends elementary learning outside of the classroom. The after-school program, founded by artist and educator McKendree Key and product designer Dany Rose, builds children’s critical thinking capabilities through ceramics, felting, silk-screening and a slew of other activities. Key started ArtShack in 2008, as a way to allow kids to create objects from scratch and to make up their own rules, and later teamed up Rose in 2011 to co-instruct.

Unlike typical ceramics classes that focus solely on technique and talent, ArtShack aims to foster young imaginations while teaching kids that the path to a finished piece of pottery, homework assignment or any future endeavor is rarely smooth and predictable—it takes flexibility, critical thinking and a bit of chutzpah to get where you’re going. In return, the children offer a glimpse at unadulterated creativity. “We love working with [kids],” Key tells CH, “because their ideas come from a place that’s untainted by trends and the constraints of conventional design.”

Key and Rose also decided to open up a shop on Etsy, where teapots, planters, cow udder-shaped bowls and more—all created by kids in their Operation ThinkShack class—are up for offer. All proceeds go directly to ArtShack’s scholarship fund (which 20% of its current students are on) in order to provide free ceramics classes to other children.

To purchase one of their pottery products, head to their online shop or, if you live in Brooklyn, ArtShack will be present at a few pop-up shops throughout December. Head to their website to learn more.

Images courtesy of ArtShack