Ceramics studio molds new life into Cape Girardeau’s historic synagogue

Updated: Oct. 15, 2020 at 4:45 PM CDT
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - An artist is bringing new life to a historic building in Cape Girardeau, all while maintaining an ancient craft.

Rob Lorenz has molded the Jewish synagogue on Main Street into Riverside Pottery, a studio aimed at showing people different ways to craft ceramics.

“I’ve always been a hands-on person so my natural inclination is to provide that for other people as well,” Lorenz said.

Once a vibrant center of worship, the synagogue has seen its fair share of owners since it was first built in the 1930s.

It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.

“A very interesting building. A historic part of downtown Cape,” Lorenz explained.

Lorenz has spent the last year transitioning the building to use as a studio, though much of the integrity of the structure remains intact.

“We wanted to keep the original feel of the building,” Lorenz said. “The beams on the ceilings, the decorative cornices, underneath those the original floors that we refinished.”

The building provides an inspiring backdrop to highlight the work Lorenz and his students are now creating inside.

“You get just outstanding natural light coming through those stained glass windows throwing like rainbows of light on the floor,” Lorenz said.

Starting in September, he opened the doors of the studio to offer hand building and wheel throwing classes.

“I think it’s more interesting to introduce other people to an art form or a craft I guess, that they really aren’t that familiar with I mean ceramics again it’s one of those things that it is peripherally there,” Lorenz said. “You are always interacting with ceramics whether it’s your dishware at home or your electrical component and all that kinds of stuff, it’s everywhere.”

He’s hoping the studio gives people in the area another way to interact with the arts.

“To make people aware of how they can make it a direct part of their life, like get their hands dirty and see what goes into making that stuff,” Lorenz said.

CLICK HERE to find out more about the classes at Riverside Pottery.

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