For a few Yale students, “art class” does not meet in Green Hall or any other University building. Instead, the students make the trek off campus to Audubon St., home to the Creative Arts Workshop.

CAW, a local art school, offers classes in various media, from pottery to fiber arts to book binding, for both amateurs and professionals. Rather than enforcing a stringent curriculum, CAW Program Director Kate Paranteau said the school allows art to be created in a relaxed, human atmosphere.

“Students often come for the social aspect of the classes as they would go to a book club,” Paranteau said.

Preferring the relaxed atmosphere of CAW to the more intensive art department, a few Yalies study at the local school, including Emily Bucholz ’08. After studying ceramics throughout high school, Bucholz chose to continue her study at CAW.

“It’s really rather refreshing to take 3 hours of your week to just throw clay and to interact with people from all over New Haven,” she said.

In addition, Paranteau said the CAW faculty members, who are all working artists, have additional experience in fields that professors with purely academic backgrounds might not be able to offer. She said students appreciate this in their instructors, especially those seeking to display and sell art effectively — necessary skills in the field that goes beyond technical artistic training.

But for many Yale students, the time-intensive and structure nature of Yale art courses is rewarding. A student in Basic Drawing last semester, Emmy Waldman ’10, said she liked the more rigorous approach taken by the art department because it provided a comprehensive introduction to visual language.

“Basic Drawing was a very intensive and rewarding experience,” she said. “It was often neither basic nor drawing because our projects ranged from building prehistoric birds to dabbling in painting media.”

On Sunday afternoon, CAW held the opening reception for its winter student exhibition, which displays art from all class levels from beginners to professional, showcasing the range of talent found in CAW’s classes, Paranteau said. Many casual students experiment with beginner classes in several media before settling on a specific area of study.

As well as attracting students of all levels of ability, CAW also attracts students over a considerable geographic range, Paranteau said.

“The workshops pull in people from all over the state, as well as from neighboring states,” Paranteau said.

The student art featured at the exhibition includes examples from all classes offered at the school. The painting “Untitled” is dominated by a swirl of red and orange and pink, enclosed by white bars that form a broken grated window. The vague, off-center, splotch of color is surrounded by a stark, sharp grey-scale frame.

Another featured work consists of a flat metal cutout of a rabbit standing on a short set of railroad tracks. Keys and key chains serve as the material for a geometric vase-like sculpture.

Other works include more “traditional” sculptures — some, such as “Thinker,” clearly based on famous works — as well as some small patterned tapestries and glossy, expressively-colored pots.

This student exhibition runs through Feb. 2. CAW hosts 10-12 showings each year, usually through the Hilles Gallery, including juried shows featuring regional and national artwork.