The Democratic Cup

As a potter I’ve never really thought about being political; don’t get me wrong as I’m very politically minded, but incorporating those themes in my work always seemed far off. Even with artists like Grayson Perry and Michelle Erickson making politically-charged work I assumed that everyday pots (opposed to ones shown in museums) were made to be self-reflective, studies in proportion/aesthetics, and push the envelope towards craft. It wasn’t until Ayumi Horie launched her 2011 Handmade for Japan campaign that showed me the amount of support and awareness that you can build with pots. Since that time we’ve seen iterations of relief-structured systems within the ceramics community that help those in need.

This time it’s a little different. The disaster hasn’t struck yet. And that’s the brilliance of Ayumi – she thinks ahead. She responds. With pottery. Her brainchild is The Democratic Cup, a platform for discussion about democracy using custom decals on limited-edition ceramics as a catalyst. What I like about the setup of graphic imagery over functional objects is that opinions about subject matter is more subversive than spelling it out in words; it creeps up on you and you are allowed to form ideas and opinions.

When I watched the first presidential debate I was alone in my apartment. Angry. Angry that I didn’t have anyone to talk to in the milliseconds after it ended. I wanted to be with people, even with different opinions so I could have a sounding board. And that’s when it clicked; if The Democratic Cup was promoting discussion on democracy with ceramics then I could definitely facilitate that discussion in line with the debates. On October 9th we  came together for the Presidential debate and discussed what is happening in the US. We passed around TDC cups made by 26 ceramic artists and illustrators. We had pancakes. We were a community.

I encourage you to look for community groups in your area to have discussions – even if you know they will get heated. It’s important to voice concerns and learn from eachother. My biggest takeaway is that even if two people do not agree on an issue, talking it out will make you better understand WHY you have a strong stance. Democracy is for everybody (no pun or joke intended), which is why I can’t stress communication enough.

Please take a look at The Democratic Cup and how they are using their creative assets to create community and platform. Clay Art Center is proud to have been able to play a small role in the promotion in a movement like this one. Unsold cups are still available in our Main Classroom and information on each specific cup can be read there – we will have them available until the election ends.



Adam Chau is the Program Manager at Clay Art Center. His studio is in Port Chester, where he utilizes digital fabrication methods with traditional studio pottery. Publications include Ceramics Monthly, The Studio Potter, and Ceramics Technical.

Clay Art Center’s Hand-in-Hand Gala– You won’t leave hungry!

Don’t worry – there will be no rubber chicken out our event!  As always, our 9th annual fundraiser and gala happening on October 20th  is a COMMUNITY FEAST, this year presenting delicious tastings by 17 area restaurants and libations courtesy of four additional local establishments.


On the terrace will be a buffet of international flavors – all of which can be found right here in Westchester County.  Be prepared to enjoy sushi by Edo,chicken tiki masala from Tandoori, Famous Greek Kitchen’s spanikopita, and Gaucho Grill’s empanadas.  There will be jambalaya from Rye Roadhouse, cavatelli from Andrea’s 25 North, meatball sliders by North Street Tavern, and much much more.


To boot, there will be wine provided by Pasternak Wine Imports, local brews from Captain Lawrence Brewing, and a signature vodka cocktail, concocted by Tarrytown’s Twisted Oak restaurant with vodka donated by Vaccaro’s Wine & Spirit.


Foodies (and art lovers) be prepared to have some fun!

NEW ITEMS ADDED! Take a Sneak Peek at this year’s Hand-in-Hand Auction line up

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The Clay Art Center Board of Directors is thrilled to host their ninth annual gala fundraiser, Hand-in-Hand: Celebrating Clay & Community, on Thursday, October 20, 2016, 6-9:30pm at Willow Ridge Country Club, 123 North Street, Harrison, NY 10528.

The evening will feature tastings from local restaurants, live music, as well as a silent and live auction, featuring one-of-kind ceramic artwork from nationally recognized artists and many other unique items. Participating artists include:  Dan Anderson, Adrian Arleo, Hayne Bayless, Robert Bello, Dalia Berman, Jeanne Carreau, Linda Casbon, Adam Chau, Jennifer Cherpock, Mary Cloonan, Jane Cohen, Jim Connell, Andrew Coombs, Angela Cunningham, Bryan Czibesz, Bruce Dehnert, Kathy Erteman, Shanna Fliegel, Karen Ford, Julia Galloway, Ron Geibel, Martha Grover, Susan Halls, Tabbatha Henry, Robin Henschel, Debra Holiber, Bryan Hopkins, Stepanka Horalkova, Matt Hyleck, Mike Jabbur, Nick Joerling, Sarah Koster, Deborah Lecce, Steven Lee, Matt Long, Roberto Lugo, Loren Maron, Deborah Mawhinney, Connor  McGinn, Leigh Mickelson, Bob Miranti, Rene Murray, Jill Oberman, Mari Ogihara, Lisa Orr, Frances Palmer, Chris Pickett, Don Reynolds, Max Seinfeld, Roberta Shapiro, Grace Sheese, Anat Shiftan, Melissa Stern, Michael Stumbras, Priya Tambe, Michelle Tobia, Kyla Toomey, Novie Trump, Logan Wall, Jackie Welsh, Emily Free Wilson, Susan Wortman.

Plus you’ll find other goodies and gift certificates from:  273 Kitchen, 808 Bistro, A.I. Friedman, Andrea’s 25 Restaurant, bartaco, Benjamin Steakhuse, Bill & Charlesana Ecker, Bullseye Glass Co., Capital Theatre, Captain Lawrence Brewing, Carmela McMahon, Coals Restaurant, Dubrovnik Restaurant, Eco Bags Products, Fairway Markets, Frankie & Fanucci’s, La Panetiere, Le Sirene Ristorante, Lusardi’s Restaurant, Madison Kitchen, Massa Costal Italian Cuisine, Melting Pot of White Plains, Mercedes Benz of Greenwich, Modern on the Rails, Morgan’s Fish House, Moscato, Neversink Spirits, Red Oak Transportation, Rio Bravo, Ruby’s Oyster Bar & Bistro, Rye Grill and Bar, Sandy & Todd LaBaugh/Killington Big House, Soul Cycle, Still the One Distillery, The Fresh Market, The Golden Horn, The Irish Bank, The Silk Road, US News and World Reports, Westchester Knicks, Whole Foods, Wine At Five, Wuji Restaurant and Zachy’s.

We have a special LIVE AUCTION item we are excited about this year. Up for bid will be a Three Night Stay  at the beautiful Killington Big House during the summer of 2017 in Killington, VT.   The Killington Big House is a large luxury vacation rental house, recently renovated and fully upgraded, that can accommodate family reunions,  corporate retreats, wedding parties, golf outings, artists retreats and large groups get-togethers.  The Main Lodge consists of 8 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms (sleeps 20), a Great Room with fireplace, dining area for 20 and fully equipped kitchen.  Start planning your bids now, and this place could be yours next summer! Retail Value is $5800.killington-big-house

Join in the festivities with celebrity auctioneer, George Latimer, New York State Senator and Westchester native. Proceeds benefit Clay Art Center’s programs, youth scholarships and Artists-in-Residence.



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Hot Pots opened Saturday, Sept. 24th with a fabulous crowd of over 200! Thank you to all our supporters, friends and artists who came to see this outstanding show. Ongoing in the gallery through Nov. 10th. Don’t miss it!

Curated by Judith Schwartz Ph.D. and Adam Chau


Farewell Post by Clay Art Center’s first Community Arts Director

Hello and Goodbye: Two Sides of the Same Coin

I have always avoided saying goodbye when possible. The idea of loss and grieving is one I think most people are uncomfortable with. But as I leave Clay Art Center bound for Philadelphia I have the truly joyful task of introducing Kelly O’Sullivan the NEW Community Arts Manager.

kelly-osullivan1In 2011 I was lucky to meet and hire a bright new teacher who has grown so radically in the last five years that she is a force to be reckoned with. Kelly O’Sullivan, who has joined CAC’s staff as our new Community Arts Manager, is a masterful teacher and sensitive artist and I can leave confident that she won’t just continue with what I have done in the community arts programs, but she will achieve so much more and offer so many more people the same solace.

Kelly is by no means a new face to CAC and her many talents can be seen through her artistic journey as a ceramics major at SUNY New Paltz to her Community Arts Fellowship here at Clay Art Center and now with her recent masters degree from Pratt Institute in Creative Arts Therapy. I sat down with Kelly to talk about the transition and share how this journey has shaped her experiences.

“Being the Community Arts Fellow here allowed me to explore what I had just discovered in grad school and challenge myself, to push my skills, and gain confidence in my vision.”

“My favorite experience was getting to know the community of other residents and CAC artists and build real connections with them. And of course, as a community arts teaching artist, I loved working in Port Chester Public Schools, it really felt like you were making a difference no matter how hard the circumstances or the environment. I thought working with the elementary students here was amazing, but it was always difficult seeing how much they miss out on while other kids across Westchester have more open access to the arts.”


“ I really hope to grow my artistic practice here at CAC in the coming years which involves translucent porcelain and creating waste molds. There is an organic process and a flow to my work that has a strong connection with nature.  I also look forward to meeting new teachers and beginning to expand the Clay as Therapy programs at Clay Art Center. I think there is such a benefit to the programs that are more than educational, they enrich the soul, and that is what brings us all to clay to begin with.”

And so I am signing off after 8 years at Clay Art Center. While technically this is a goodbye, I really feel like I am leaving so much of myself here at CAC. As the Community Arts Director I had the incredible opportunity to meet thousands of individuals  – young and old – whose lives were forever changed by the humble material we call clay.This world would be so different without a place like Clay Art Center and it’s a group of the most passionate, dedicated and kind people I have ever met who have committed their lives to teaching others. When I first started at Clay Art Center eight years ago I would walk into a school and hear a chorus of “Clay Lady, Clay Lady” following me into the classroom. I remember being so embarrassed when the local paper published an article with my picture and the big inscription “The Clay Lady” scrawled across the top. But now, so many students later, I wear it like a badge. It is my courage when I try something new; it is my pride when someone admires our work or compliments a mosaic; and it is something I will carry though my life as proof that I was part of this community; that we were friends, comrades, and shared our grief, joy and creativity together.

Clay Art Center has been the place I go not just to work, but to be free from loneliness, despair, and the stresses of life and I will never forget it. I hope you will all join me in looking at our stellar community arts programs. There really isn’t anything like them on the east coast!  In so many ways you all have helped to make these programs possible. I am leaving with a full heart, and will be back often to see how community arts is flourishing. If you want to take a next personal step to help sustain and support the development of our community arts programs, I encourage you to make a donation, of any size, to keep clay in the hands of those who NEED it most.  A gift from you to our community arts programs would be such a gift to me!

Thanks for all the great years and though I won’t be seeing you in the studio I know you will help keep the creativity alive!


Ariel Edwards

FRESHLY FUNK: Lauren Skelly online gallery and Q&A

Lauren Skelly answers some of our questions about her solo show (running July 23-September 17)


Q: How has your work evolved over the years? Can you describe your process?
My work started in vessel making with Yuki at Haven Art. At Adelphi University, I studied with Anti Liu, Bill Shillalies, & Puneeta Mittal, my work grew from vessel to sculptural forms inspired by the idea of a pot. In a workshop at Peter’s Valley, Robert Brady — pushed me to think about the possibilities a pot/form had, I experimented with textures on the surface, and the glaze application. The following semester in college, I started taking the same approach to making in clay, being open to the process. I became inspired by Walter McConnell, and his wet seascapes, that I made wheel thrown, smooth orbs that I connected to make ephemeral sculptures, giving them a life cycle. The end result was the work would fall apart and have the opportunity to become apart of something else through becoming reclaim clay. From there I branched out in more hand building at RISD. Through a material science class with Frank Bosco I became intrigued with break some rules, not firing the dense mounds of clay, allowing for crazing in the right places and realizing I wasn’t breaking any rules, I was giving purpose to these traditionally unwanted surfaces. The rocks I was forming, taught me a lot about making, and the firing process — I remember being afraid to fire, but Larry Bush & Rick Haynes, walked me through it, most of the time no casualties. When there were they quickly became apart of something else. The work was evolving through multiple firings, and yet I needed more. I started making floral corals, on the side. Eventually they were all that I made. I remember talking with Patrick Purcell, about all  these things I was making in clay — his advice was to put it all together, which at the time I thought was not possible, but without this piece Stacked wouldn’t be here. My work has evolved every time due to openness to opportunity. From a vessel to an orb to conglomerate to floral corals, to installations and pieces that invite all forms.

Q: Do you think living in New York is integral to your practice?

I believe living in New York has given my opportunities, that are key to my process.  New York offers access to a variety of landscapes from commercial, to nature, to institutions/museums, to cityscapes, and within nature. These places offer inspiration, in the form of color relationships, gestures/composition, and textural elements. I’m lucky to be close to some of the world’s best art, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, the Frick Collection, and the Whitney to name a few, these places offer a variety of art, which allows for great research into color, composition and material. New York has embedded me with a taste for art and to make art.

Q: What trends do you see popping up in the ceramic scene in the NY Metro area?

The New York Clayscape evolves constantly, I find conversations in  domesticity, decorative arts and technology to be emerging recently. I’m intrigued by 3D printing as a process for vessel making, specifically the work of Shawn Spangler and Bryan Czibesz, together they have collaborated on vessels made using 3D printing and bright colors.

Q: What is your favorite piece in the show?

My favorite piece is the show, is Stacked, it combines a variety of processes I use for making, wheel, hand building, flocked bits, multiple fired parts and with florals.

Clay Art Center Partners with TD Bank to Bring Change

by Ariel Edwards, Community Arts Director Clay Art Center

There aren’t many opportunities to change the world these days that would cost less than the change in your pocket, but lo-and-behold here it is!   The Bring Change campaign designed by our partners TD Bank gives you the chance to give vulnerable children a free summer scholarship to clay camp.   As the value of a penny is less than what it takes to make these days this is an incredible feat.

Children like Joshua, Giovanni and Mattias will have an enriching art experience while making new friends and learning from professional artists in a safe environment.   Camp opportunities not only help to sharpen artistic skills but they give children the chance to build confidence, feel empowered and make social connections in the world around them.

So bring your change to Clay Art Center today!   We are collecting change in several places throughout the center until July 22nd when TD Bank will match your donations dollar for dollar (or penny for penny).

Help us bring change-and clay-to deserving children in our area!

Clay Art Center is a nationally recognized non-profit center for the advancement and practice of ceramic arts offering exhibitions, clay classes for adults and children, studio spaces for clay artists and outreach programs in the community.  It is located in the heart of Port Chester at 40 Beech Street, Port Chester, NY 10573. Gallery and SHOP hours are Monday through Saturday 10am-5pm or by appointment. For more information or images, please contact Dominique Mason, Communications Manager of Clay Art Center at or 914-937-2047 x226