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This project was successfully funded on October 31, 2014

Free Ceramics & The Studio Art Center

by Emily Free Wilson


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My name is Emily Free Wilson and I am a ceramic artist, gallery director, wife and mother (and that is just the top of the list!)  This fundraiser is for our new building, The Studio Art Center.

This building is my art. The creating that will happen and the sharing and learning that already takes place in this building is incredible! A building that is for artists and run by artists. It is a place we can make great for each other and then stay and enjoy it and create in it. When a porch is installed on the front of the building, it isn't a "production" porch, but a handsomely crafted and beautiful porch. When the bathroom is tiled, mosaics will cover many of the flat surfaces. When wall dividers are used to separate space for classes, the room dividers will be pieces of art in themselves.

This building is a reflection of the kind of artist I am. From my undergraduate exhibition-where I enlisted the help of a dozen people to paint and install my ridiculously large sculpture; to my work as a gallery director, to now-with this ambitious building. I am always working with others to create something bigger than one person can make on their own. This building will give me the space to share my passion and love for art with children, artists, and art appreciators!

My husband Matt Wilson and I started a collaborative pottery "Free Ceramics" with my brother Bobby Free in 2010. If you are not familiar with our story, read more about us at For the past four years we have grown our pottery business and community activities finding ourselves needing a more functional space. We recently had the opportunity to buy our own building- and we did it! We wrote a business plan for the building, debated it for months and took the plunge! We moved our pottery, classroom and studios into our own building! In addition to having a space that works better for us, we will be sharing our 8,000 square foot building with many other artists who will have affordable private studios, display space, and a beautiful classroom to rent for creating and sharing. The support you give us will increase and stream line our making process for Free Ceramics, allow me to create more one-of-a-kind pieces and open up more opportunities for teaching, learning and collaboration with other artists in our vibrant art community.

Our wonderful building is being converted with your generous help! Our new building is made of two levels. The main level is studio space for Free Ceramics and the great room: a large beautiful rentable classroom space for the community and display for artwork. The basement level will have 8 private studios for artists of all mediums. The goal: to raise $20,000 that will be used to make these spaces ready for all of us to use! The funds will purchase electrical upgrades, ADA accessible bathrooms for both levels, professional fees, ADA entrance ramp, lighting fixtures, two front entrances, drywall, paint and the electricity needed to get the kilns hooked up! And these improvements for the building means more kids classes, more art making, and more community collaborations! Your tax deductible donation can come with perks listed in the right column. Or choose to donate without a perk. You can help in many ways. Your sharing, participation and encouragement is very appreciated.  Every person who donates any amount will be listed on our website with our most humble and genuine Thanks.

Supporting our project will help immensely! Currently Free Ceramics is working with water hauled up from the basement in 5 gallon buckets. Kid’s clay projects and ceramics are being hauled by truck back and forth to the previous location where the kilns are still installed. The lack of proper facilities has slowed us down (but only for a little while!) We are also planning the 2nd Annual “This is Helena” Exhibition, a city-wide art exhibit open and free to all artists in Helena and the surrounding areas. The inaugural year had 124 artists participate! To prepare for the opening reception October 25th, The Studio Art Center is already buzzing with activity. The transformation that will take place over the next few months will be astounding!

We can do it! You can help! Matt Wilson has 15 years of experience as a contractor and will be doing a good portion of the work required.  His knowledge and donated labor will allow us to afford more improvements per dollar donated. Emily Free Wilson is starting her tenth year as the Gallery Director at the Archie Bray Foundation and has experience organizing and teaching classes as well as managing galleries. We have the foundation of experience to pull this all together!

With your support Free Ceramics and The Studio Art Center will reach their fundraising goal of $20,000. If funding exceeds the initial goal, additional funds will be used to winterize the kiln room, install fire safety lights, set-up the glaze, sink and mold making rooms and the loftiest dream: to install four large windows in the great room! The vision to make Free Ceramics a more successful pottery and create The Studio Art Center will become a reality with your help! We cannot thank you enough, but we will try!

THANK YOU! By pushing the donate button, your gift to us is tax deductible through the generous work of our host Hatchfund, a non-profit organization supporting the arts. A small percentage will be added to your initial donation in order for us to not pay ANY fees at all. THANK YOU again for taking the time to watch our video, read this far and support us in any way you can. Thank you for believing and investing in a project where artists, art and community are the focus.


Images of the perks will be posted in the updates section.  The first update will have an image of the two poems written by Tyler Knott Gregson, a local poet and photographer who is excited about our project.  He generously gave us these poems to help offer exciting perks for our supporters!  The stickers will have Emily's signature "Dots" dancing around them.  The tiles will have Tyler's poems pressed in clay and decorated and numbered by Emily.  Stay tuned and check out our updates for more images and info about this exciting collaboration!

    • February 20, 2015 Dalani Tanahy Artist

      Congratulations on reaching your goal! I hope your art center has progressed well and you are able to do all the wonderful things your family envisioned! aloha Dalani