Handcrafted in Atlantic City’s Mudgirls Studios

Handcrafted in Atlantic City’s Mudgirls Studios

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ATLANTIC CITY — As the joyful masses gathered here outside Saint Michael Church for last month’s Wedding of the Sea festival, the happiest faces belonged to the Mudgirls.

Handing out their handcrafted ceramic medallions created for the occasion to all who stopped by their booth, these women received in return something more precious than money — pride, a sense of purpose and empowerment.

Last January, Mudgirls Studios began in Adelaide’s Place, a day shelter for homeless women in Atlantic City that is run by the Daughters of the Heart of Mary. The weekly gathering around the table to roll out clay and create bowls, plates and decorative items became a refuge from Atlantic City’s streets.

“Mudgirls Studios celebrates a love of clay, the creative process and the chance for women to transform their own lives,” stressed its founder, Dorrie Papademetriou.

The opportunity the studio provides these women to be creative, foster fellowship, feel proud of themselves, and receive supplemental income “helps them get back on track to self-sufficiency,” she added.

A native of Ohio, Papademetriou earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Bowling Green State University before beginning a career in creative design and art direction.

No stranger to South Jersey, she most recently was curator of the Noyes Museum of Art at Stockton College. One of her exhibits, “Finding Home,” focused on Atlantic City’s homeless.

For the Wedding of the Sea festival, the women spent weeks crafting the ceramic green medallions, with the image of a wreath and boat carved into them.

The studio “is a safe place for these women, and gives these women something productive to do,” said Father Jon Thomas, pastor of Atlantic City’s Parish of Saint Monica.

“When they saw how happy people were to receive these medallions at the festival, and how appreciative the festival-goers were, they felt good; they felt they had achieved something,” he said.

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