The Clay Art Center has completed its 504 square-foot mosaic mural on their building at 40 Beech Street after five years of work on the project. They will hold an official ribbon cutting for the artwork on Sept. 7 at 4 p.m.
Artists and community members have worked since 2009 to see their vision manifested on the Art Center wall and their impressive masterpiece carries a lot of meaning. The symbolism is described in a press release:
The image of a tree would be main subject of the mural, symbolizing who Clay Art Center is and what we do: the tree’s roots, which curve around its home of Port Chester, symbolize the roots laid by our founders, which are deep and strong and provide a home for all of the artists and students to create, work, be nourished and find inspiration; the trunk is the core of the tree which symbolizes the Clay Art Center artists who are central to the existence of the center; the branches are the core programs of Clay Art Center: education, exhibitions and community arts; and the leaves that grow from the branches are the community of students from the Port Chester community and beyond who come to take classes, view an exhibit or participate in workshops.
The Center is a non-profit ceramic arts center that has been offering educational opportunities, exhibitions and a space for studio practice for more than 50 years in Port Chester. Port Chester Mayor Neil Pagano will cut the ribbon and will be joined by NY State Senator George Latimer and Janet Langsam, CEO of ArtsWestchester. Langsam will speak about the impact of the arts on our community along with board members, Judith Weber and Reena Kashyap, who have been vital to the project.
Read more information about the project from the CAC’s press release here:
The concept off the community mural began in 2009 when an exterior installation was scheduled to be removed and the possibility of having a “bare white wall” seemed like an intolerable option. The staff and artists immediately began brainstorming about what could replace it and the idea of installing a ceramic mural was born. A committee was formed, a plan was made and public workshops with members of the community began to create the pieces of the mural.
This beautiful piece of public art, made by the hands of our community, gives Clay Art Center an artistic exterior face and thereby identifies what goes on inside our doors. It honors all those who make time for creative expression and use clay as a transformative medium.
The actual creation of the mosaic pieces of the mural took place over 5 years, first conceived under the leadership of founding director Reena Kashyap, and initially implemented by Community Arts Fellow, Shanna Fliegel in 2009. Community Arts Director Ariel Plantz took the reigns in 2010, and has until the present time. Workshops were held for youth and adults to make leaves, hands, and other parts that depicted landmarks of Port Chester. CAC Artists made the pieces of the trunk, branches and roots. The pieces were dried, glazed and fired and were stored in boxes to wait to be installed. During the past two summers, Plantz supervised a team of interns to complete parts for the mosaic. As hundreds of pieces were made and nearing completion, the project was delayed by another year as technical installation issues presented a new set up challenges. In the winter of 2013, a solution was found and in June, the installation began.
“This mural truly connects clay with our community,” stated Executive Director Leigh Taylor Mickelson. “After many years of planning and effort, it is powerful to see this work of art forming on our building. Our hope is that it will bring more people through our doors, and act as a beacon to the arts here in Port Chester.”
Clay Art Center (CAC) is a nationally recognized 501(c)(3)
non-for-profit arts center, which was founded in 1957 by Katherine Choy and
Henry Okamoto. A champion for the
arts in the community, CAC is the largest and most active ceramic facility in
the tri-state area. Believing
strongly that the arts have the ability to touch and enrich lives, our mission
is to offer a stimulating space for studio practice, exhibition and educational
opportunities to better serve the community. On an annual basis, over 7,000
individuals come through CAC’s doors to take a class, experience an exhibit,
purchase handmade clay art or participate in a workshop. CAC offers over 175 need-based
scholarships for classes and summer camps and in partnership with community
organizations, programs are offered to people living with cancer, Alzheimer’s
disease and mental illnesses as well as the under-served members of our
community. Clay Art Center is a
vibrant community arts center committed to providing outstanding programs for
the community so that everyone has the opportunity for creative expression.