How one local potter is helping Adams County residents find faith through art
By Adam Kulikowski | Photography by Casey Martin
“Yet you, Lord, are our Father,” reads Isaiah 64:8. “We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”
As conveyed in verses like these, the symbolic nature of clay transcends the art of molding a malleable lump into a work of art or useful item. It’s a medium to change the human heart—
to provide joy and enrichment in the lives of others.
Cathleen Lerew produces breathtaking works of pottery and art at her studio, Under the Horizon, in Gettysburg. But, like the clay she sculpts, her art holds a higher power and meaning.
“The pieces I love to make are the ones that have a life beyond themselves—the heirloom piece, a piece that is given in memory of someone, and prayer bowls,” Lerew says. More often, art is simply a tool to guide others in their faith or bereavement journeys through her Christian- and ministry-based, for-profit organization.
More Than Art
From an early age, Lerew recalls with laughter her love of “playing in the mud.” Molding clay into art was a passion she enjoyed growing up.
As most journeys do, however, days, months, and years passed before she reached her true calling in life and began a new career—community outreach and ministry efforts inspired by creativity.
“I’ve always had a passion for the art and as I got older, pottery came back into my life…” Lerew says. “You’re dealing right with your medium. You’re working through something to make something. I love the texture feel of it…As I got older, I started to see more of the biblical side of working with clay. I was raised to believe in God. But, I had to find my faith as I got older. My journey led me here.”
“Here” is Under the Horizon, which Lerew launched in 2010. She’s been building the community-minded art studio ever since with the help of family, friends, community members, and dedicated volunteers. All along the way, she believes God has guided the path.
At the studio on Biglerville Road, she offers bereavement services for children, helping them to understand their loss and begin to heal, “using it (the clay) to explain the brokenness of things and the healing and renewal,” Lerew says. “I remember having kids in for the first time working with clay that was broken. We showed them how things in life break, and we crushed the clay, added water, and were able to use it again.”
The impact was tremendous, she says. These group services impact many Adams County families, and Under the Horizon has recently expanded into Dillsburg as well.
“We touch the community in so many ways,” says Studio Manager Alice MacArthur, who learned about Under the Horizon after her daughter lost her child, Jason, at birth. “It is just amazing. People walk in the door and we’re usually able to provide some sort of service to them, regardless of what it is.”
The studio offers pottery, ceramic, and canvas lessons; stained glass, drawing, and fiber arts; paint-your-own-pottery parties; field trips; fundraisers; camps; and more.
“The artwork is significant, but it is not the core of what we do,” Lerew says. “We use our creative gift to propel the work we do. There are four ministries that run out of the studio. We’re a pottery studio, but we’re ministry-based and that’s really important.”
Each of the four ministries helps the community in a unique way. The Children’s Bereavement Art Group, for example, provides grief support for children and their families in their journey after losing a loved one. The no-cost creative arts program is designed to help children ages 5 to 15. The program does not provide therapy.
The Gathering Pot provides creative and healing activities for adults and families in a safe and supportive environment that supports the grief journey. Through fellowship, conversation, and art, staff provide an environment to learn from one another and build lifelong bonds.
The Blessing Box was established in 2016 to help provide food to families in need in the Upper Adams community during holiday and summer breaks, when many food-insufficient families struggle to provide healthy meals.
Potter and the Clay ministry explains biblical teachings through the demonstration of pottery and the potter’s wheel.
“When you walk into her studio, you feel the love there,” ARC of Adams County Executive Director Joann Smith says. “Everyone that walks into that studio is important at that moment. There is no one left out. Everyone is connected. Everyone is included. It is a family. She shares a love in the community.”
“I have no desire to be the world’s best potter,” Lerew adds, “but I love to teach…we all use our gifts to help.”
Under the Horizon Pottery & Arts Studio
A Christian-Oriented & Community-Minded Pottery & Arts Studio
2650 Biglerville Road, Gettysburg