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

Pushing Boundaries at Clay Art Center

Interview with Jose Tlaczani Clay Art Center Community Arts Resident

By Ariel Edwards, Community Arts Director Clay Art Center

When I first met Jose nearly two years ago his sincerity and the sense of something burgeoning just below the surface left a big impression on me.  Now after his year-long residency that “something” has become a steely and colorful force that drives him to create ceramic artwork about identity and sexuality.

Jose is part of a unique residency program, funded by the Westchester Community Foundation, that provides opportunities for emerging young artists interested in developing teaching skills and giving back to the community.  With the culmination of his residency and his exhibition on display until July 15th, Jose shares some thoughts on his experience at Clay Art Center, his personal and artistic development and how important it is to share through the arts.

Q.Do you see a progression in your artwork since the beginning of your residency?
Jose: I think everything I made has a purpose. Someone in the beginning of my residency told me that the process is important and not to throw anything away. That helped me to see how things grew from the beginning and helped me get to the body of work I created today. Coming to Clay Art Center I felt so lost and out of place, I felt like my work was still awkward. Clay Art Center has given me a place and a deep appreciation for clay. It has also helped me to rediscover how much I love to draw.

Q: What does the work in this exhibition mean to you?
Jose:One of my mentors told me “Stop pretending art is hard” which is a lyric from a song that I listen to a lot now. That helped me to think about why I was making these sculptures. My work really became the story of my identity and how much it has changed in this past year. In 2015 I came out to my family and left my religion as a Jehovah’s Witness. The artwork I made became a way to share this experience with my family and the people important to me. I am who I am and I’m proud of that.

Q: Do you think this is especially important after the tragedy that has just happened in Orlando?
Jose: Yes definitely, that really has taught me the value of life and to really live each day like it’s your last. And, like making this artwork, not to let fear keep you from continuing to live your life.

Q: What are some reactions viewers have had to your work?
Jose: During the opening an older man I had never met approached me and asked me about the work.He asked “Why do you have to let the world know about this, it isn’t anyone’s business?” After I explained why it was important he gave me a hug and thanked me. It made me realize that there is kindness out there even from total strangers. It is so hard putting yourself out there, the whole time I was making the work I was thinking about how people would see it. At the same time, who cares, it is what I want to make and that has really freed me. This body of work gave me purpose and made me feel more accomplished than I have felt in a long time.

Q: You mentioned your mentors, was that an important part of your residency?
I had a lot of mentors. I think the studio manager Rob Zili has really helped to guide me this year. I had a late start in ceramics and didn’t really know what it meant to be an artist. He would leave me sticky notes in my space and we would have conversations that helped me develop a deeper idea of what this means. It also helped me realize that there is someone there behind me and that I still need support and that is okay. Everyone has been such a great guide, not just about art but about my life and where I am going.

Q: What is next for you?
Jose: I really want to continue teaching community arts classes. I have also applied to be a flight attendant at my job at the Westchester County airport. I really want to travel and see the world so that I can expand how I work and make art.

Come and see Jose’s work and share his experiences at Clay Art Center now through July 15th in the main classroom.

This residency is funded through the Emily and Harold E. Valentine and Evelyn Gable Clark Scholarship Fund of Westchester Community Foundation.

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 Friday, 10am-6pm and Saturday 10am-4pm or by appointment. For more information or images, please contact Dominique Mason, Communications Manager of Clay Art Center at or 914-937-2047 x226

BRING CHANGE. Sponsor a Smile.

Clay Art Center partners with The Lily Palmer Fry Memorial Trust and the TD Bank to transform the lives of local kids in need.

by Ariel Edwards, Clay Art Center Community Arts Director

Joshua in studio

Joshua is not your average 14 year-old.  In fact he is something else altogether.  Joshua has been involved at Clay Art Center for more than five years when he first entered our classrooms to give something back to the community during our annual Empty Bowls workshops.  Not something you find every young adolescent aspiring to!  Since then Joshua has put his creativity and ingenuity to the test as he fearlessly jumped on the wheel and never quite stopped.  I look forward to seeing him in the classroom each week, and better yet during the summer where he participates in intensive, week-long camps that sharpen his skills, introduce him to new friends and professional teaching artists.  This experience is invaluable for Joshua at an age when many kids are watching TV on the couch.  Joshua is able to further his artistic dreams each summer thanks to generous donors like you.  Clay Art Center’s Sponsor-A-Child campaign reached more than 35 students last year, offering a record number of full-day summer camp scholarships.  This year we are aiming higher! With matching grants from The Lily Palmer Fry Memorial Trust and the TD Bank, your dollars will reach more kids like Joshua who are inspired and catalyzed in our classrooms.

Today I have 23 scholarship applications on my desk and everyday sees more kids who don’t have the means for this incredibly enriching arts experience.  With limited resources to fill this need Clay Art Center is asking you to help change the lives of these children for the better by donating to our Sponsor a Child Campaign.

You can have a transformational impact on a kid like Joshua, who without a scholarship to Clay Camp, will not have a challenging, safe and creative summer camp experience like his peers.  Help us meet our goal of reaching $10,000 and providing scholarships to the bright, creative and funny kids like Joshua. You can make a difference starting today!

Clay Art Center is Fired Up about its brand new kiln, Audrey!

On Saturday, June 4  Clay Art Center celebrated the inaugural firing of  its new Bailey Studio Deluxe Auto-Fire shuttle gas kiln “Audrey”  with a ribbon cutting for “Wheel of Flame” donors and CAC Artists, who made the acquisition and installation a reality through years of volunteer work and contributions to the Audrey Greenwald Memorial Equipment Fund.

Jim Bailey and Rob Zilli

Jim Bailey, Owner of Bailey Pottery with Rob Zilli, Clay Art Center Facilities Manager

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After over a year of trials, tribulations, modifications and improvements, we are thrilled  that the new Bailey Shuttle fully automatic gas kiln, lovingly named “Audrey”, is finally going LIVE! We deeply appreciate the support and patience of the Clay Art Center community while we made all the necessary improvements to the kiln room, which both allow us to use this beautiful new kiln, and help make Clay Art Center a safer environment.

To gear up for this exciting new piece of high-tech equipment, Jim and Anne Bailey joined us on May 19th to give staff and CAC artists a superior training and demonstration session.  We all learned a lot about the science of reduction firing – no longer the mysteries of reduction firing – and how to program the kiln.  Previously, our Studio Manager Rob Zilli worked tirelessly with Jim Bailey to test fire and adjust the kiln and the program, so that it will fire just right for our cone 10 glazes.

Special thanks to Jim & Anne Bailey, who did a fantastic write up on their blog about their time with Clay Art Center.  Read on: Article by Jim Bailey, maker of the Bailey Studio Deluxe Auto-Fire Kiln Audrey

Here’s to the start several years of successful firing, folks!  Thanks again!

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 Friday, 10am-6pm and Saturday 10am-4pm or by appointment. For more information or images, please contact Dominique Mason, Communications Manager of Clay Art Center at or 914-937-2047 x226

SPACE & TIME Online Exhibition: Max Seinfeld and Chris Pickett

2015-16 Clay Art Center’s Artist in Residence Exit Exhibitions

Max Seinfeld and Chris Pickett

On June 4, 2016 Clay Art Center celebrated the opening of  Space and Time: a duo exhibition featuring whimsical functional works by Barbara Rittenberg Fellow Chris Pickett and abstract sculpture by Artist-in-Resident Max Seinfeld.   Made at Clay Art Center during their year-long residencies, Space and Time runs June 4 – July 15, 2016 . Also on exhibit in the Main Classroom display case are sculptural vessels by Westchester Community Foundation Valentine & Clark Emerging Artist fellow Jose Tlaczani.

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Since September these two artists have spent space and time working alongside each other. This exhibition explores line and color through Pickett’s whimsical pottery and Seinfeld’s intimate sculpture. As part of our year-long focus IN OUR BACKYARD, we will see how their immersion in this urban, eclectic community environment shaped their paths as artists and makers.

A recent MFA graduate from University of Florida, Gainesville, Barbara Rittenberg Fellow Chris Pickett’s hand built porcelain combines form, color and design to create utilitarian work that is culturally relevant and aesthetically poignant. His forms and imagery are often suggestive of physical intimacy, personal domestic spaces and childhood experience.

Max Seinfeld’s experimental sculpture is transformed from fiber into ceramics as well as glaze phenomena. A recent post-baccalaureate from SUNY New Paltz, Seinfeld has developed a body of work through a process-oriented practice, creating non-referential sculptures that address material and process. His artistic methods explore the possibilities and limitations a material presents through alternative modes of making.

Max Seinfeld received his BFA from the University of Hartford, Connecticut in 2014 and finished his post-baccalaureate studies from the State University of New York at New Paltz, New York in 2015. After completing a four month assistantship at Peters Valley School of craft in Layton, New Jersey he was accepted as a resident artist at the Clay Art Center in Port Chester, New York. In addition to a formal education he works as a part time studio assistant for Doug Peltzman Pottery and will be continuing his residency for a second year at The Clay Art Center.

About his work, Max states, “Currently, I am developing a body of work through a process oriented practice creating non referential sculptures that address material and process. I tend to favor repetitive artistic methods in hopes of thoroughly exploring the possibilities and limitations a material presents through alternative modes of making. By transforming my sculptures from fiber into ceramics, I create a more permanent surface than is achievable working solely in fiber. I weave forms by wrapping plant-based and synthetic fibers around newspaper dowels; a variety of fibers are used to obtain specific attributes such as high absorbency rates and specific textures. I then dip these in casting slip and fire them in a gas kiln to burn out all of the organic material, effectively leaving clay shells or husks. At this point I deconstruct these woven forms and reassemble them using low-fire glazes. I challenge myself with the process of constructing, deconstructing, and reconstructing, which allows me to play and take risks in the effort of building a sense of tension within each sculpture. Each structure goes through at least six to eight low temperature firings before being shelved for a time. I pack them away and revisit them after a month to decide whether or not the firing process will continue. Working this way creates a strong relationship between myself as a maker and the work. The naming of each piece is a product of this process, based on reactions that I experience during the process or the ideas a finished piece may radiate. Ultimately, I hope to encourage a connection between the viewer and my work by compelling the audience to observe the gesture and depth through a balance of control and serendipitous occurrence.”

Chris Pickett grew up in the 1970’s and 80’s in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Childhood experiences filled with Lincoln Logs, improvised tree house construction and action figure forts constructed of twigs and pine needles, taught Chris to love working with his hands at an early age. These early experiences would become a significant influence on his work years later. Chris earned his BFA from the University of Tennessee in 2001. In the years that followed, Chris maintained a studio practice at his home in Chattanooga, while frequently working as a studio assistant at the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. Chris completed his graduate studies at the University of Florida and was awarded his MFA in 2011.

About his work Chris states,The human desire for comfort is universal. In moments of uncertainty, it insulates us from anxiety and unease. My functional ceramic vessels cater to this hunger for physical and emotional comfort and gratification. Using nostalgia as a point of reference, I utilize form, color and design to evoke a sense of familiarity and solace. I choose visual language that is suggestive of the comforting nature of physical intimacy, personal domestic spaces and childhood experiences. The use of low relief stencils and compound mold systems allow me to articulate vessels with a specific formal language. With the appearance of being freshly constructed, the fullness of form allows these vessels to evoke a sense of play and ease. Generous volumes reference childlike items, such as toys and stuffed animals, and serve as metaphors of our own bodies that allude to the comforts of physical intimacy. Exaggerated pillow forms create a desire to physically interact with the work, and voluptuous curves awaken our preconceptions of volume and what it represents: vitality, sensuality, generosity and abundance. With these vessels I provide the user with a transformative personal experience through use, rather than to address needs of utility, necessity, or convenience.”

Jose Tlaczani

A grant from the Westchester Community Foundation’s Emily & Harold E. Valentine and Evelyn Gable Clark Scholarship Fund supports Clay Art Center’s Emerging Artist Residency. This residency provides post-baccalaureate training for a young local artist who is seeking a career as a ceramic artist. CAC selected Jose Tlaczani as the recipient of the 2015-16 Emerging Artist Residency. For the past year he has been developing his work and gaining teaching skills in our community arts classrooms across the county. Jose will be exhibiting sculptural vessels that express his journey in clay these past 8 months.

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About his work Jose states “My inspiration comes from my surroundings. This can range from man-made objects like a metal screw to things found in nature such as a beautiful rose. The color of the leaves is re-imagined in the surface of my work making it colorful and bright. At other times it depends on my mood. I like working in the studio with music. I listen to the lyrics of a song, and emulate the emotion of the words through texture and etching on the exterior of my pots. This decoration becomes visual rhythms as felt through the sentiment in a song. The defining aesthetic in my artwork is a blend of tradition & innovation that combines elegant form with loose & uninhibited glaze application. My strong foundation in drawing & painting comes alive on the surface of the ceramic work.”



Clay Art Center and Liz Yonkers Adult Daycare seniors put their own spin on the game

By Ariel Edwards, Community Arts Director, Clay Art Center

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Viva Bingo!  The last thing I expected when I walked into the Liz Yonkers Adult Daycare Center was to hear Bingo being called out in four languages.  And that was truly a microcosm of my introduction to the center, an incredibly diverse, lively and creative group of adults bent on finding new ways to enjoy life.  This experience made the phrase “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” sound like a curse and definitely a falsehood.

Men and women filled the common area chatting, eating and laughing. Light streamed through the windows and the bright walls really made a small space feel full to the brim with activity. The center prides itself on not only offering fully subsidized programming free of charge but a wide scope of educational and creative workshops that include a “Photo booth”, acupuncture and painting. Not your average series of Medicare lectures that is for sure!  Even Bingo, the age-old pastime was flavored with a creative new update.

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Instructor Mari Ogihara teaches handbuilding technique to senior program member

And that is where we came in. Clay Art Center teaching artists Tomoko Abe and Mari Ogihara bring in an unassuming bag of clay each week and turn Bingo on its head by creating personalized Bingo chips with students. Such a simple thing has energized the older adults who carefully craft each clay chip and paint/carve intricate designs that represent themselves. Along with a ceramic game box their Bingo chips have become the envy of the center.

This project is just the first in a series that allows adults to explore clay while creatively contributing a bit of magic to the center.  Next up is a collaborative chess board with self-portrait pieces as well as clay planters that will kick off a community garden.  So long live Bingo and its unique ability to bring together the Liz Yonkers Adult Day Care and clay!

This program is funded by the Liz Yonkers Adult Daycare Center.

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 Friday, 10am-6pm and Saturday 10am-4pm or by appointment. For more information or images, please contact Dominique Mason, Communications Manager of Clay Art Center at or 914-937-2047 x226