Artist-in-Residence Exhibition In-Person Outdoor Opening Reception


Wednesday, June 30, 2021
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm


Clay Art Center is pleased to present Concurrent Solo Exhibitions by Artists-in-Residence 

Austin Coudriet “Far from where I am”

Maria Spiess “Fast Wind/Slow”

James Lee Webb “Reupholstering the Fabric of Old Stories”

 In-Person Outdoor Opening Reception

Wednesday, June 30, 6 – 8pm

With Beer tastings provided by Run & Hide Brewery of Port Chester, NY.

In the Gallery & Online: June 28 – August 6

 Join us for our first in-person opening reception in 16 months on Wednesday, June 30th, 6 – 8pm, where we will be celebrating the artistic achievements of our current resident artists Austin Coudriet and Maria Spiess and our 2019-2020 resident artist James Webb. Come and meet the artists, view their solo exhibitions and enjoy beer tastings provided by Run & Hide Brewery, a small-batch craft brewery dedicated to producing quality ales and lagers that will be opening in the heart of Port Chester in 2022 ( The reception will take place outdoors by our gallery entrance with opportunities to view the exhibition inside.

For 23 years, emerging artists have been advancing their careers at Clay Art Center in our nationally recognized artist-in-residence program. The past two decades have seen 50 young artists get the chance to launch their artistic careers and gain valuable skills in teaching. Each year their residency culminates in a year-end exhibition highlighting their artistic achievements throughout the past year. This is a great opportunity to view the work of these emerging talents. Many past residents have gone on to thriving artistic careers in the U.S. and across the globe.

Learn More:

Austin Coudriet
“Far from where I am” Exhibition

 Austin Coudriet is a ceramic artist currently working and living in Westchester, NY. He holds a BFA from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His work highlights the interaction between architecture and amorphous forms with some abstract sculptures being life-size. Austin is a second year resident artist at Clay Art Center.

Artist Statement “My work is an ongoing tactile conversation between soft amorphous
forms and rigid linear components. The medium of clay offers me elasticity and mutability, capturing my touch like a photograph. When refined clay evokes crispness and rigidity, yielding physical and formal structure. Clay captivates me as it undergoes transformations. Its versatility in form and potential provides me with units upon which I can build and construct. My creative process is a catalyst that helps me outwardly process my internal emotions. Through the use of tension, color and negative space I abstractly depict pivotal and ephemeral human stages such as grief, hardships, and transitions. My work is displayed in temporary compositions that adapt to the emotions being processed. The use of bright colors and playful arrangements is a façade to masking the complex deconstruction of my internal state of being.

I collect inspiration from modernist architecture, mid-century modern furniture, scaffolding and clouds. The imagery is recorded in a collection of sketch books, which I later reference when establishing new forms. As a child I would draw with my father, an architect. I was fascinated by the way he built with lines as they exceeded their boundaries yet they were contained by the image they formed, loose but intentional. As I transform my sketches into three dimensional space I retain this quality of freedom found with structure.”

Maria Spiess
“Fast Wind/Slow” Exhibition

 Maria Spiess is the Rittenberg Artist-in-Residence at Clay Art Center, in Port Chester, NY. Maria grew up in Bowling Green, Ohio, where she also began her pursuit of ceramic arts studies at Bowling Green State University. She earned her MFA from Syracuse University in 2017 and has completed residencies at Lux Center for the Arts (Lincoln, NE), Woodstock Byrdcliffe Arts Colony (Woodstock, NY), Taos Clay Studio (Taos, NM), Golden Bridge Pottery (Pondicherry, India), and Chautauqua Institution (Chautauqua, NY).

Artist Statement “As people come and go in our lives, we are affected in varying ways by their presence, words, and actions. Though it may not always feel obvious, we are changed as we absorb their influence. Like a breeze over water, they affect us and move us, turning us into waves. I build my work using coils, pinching techniques, and minimal tools. I enjoy using my hands for as much of my process as possible. This commitment to simplicity helps me capture some of the natural effects of my building methods. Clay easily captures our interactions with it, preserving our finger prints as evidence of our impact on it.”

James Lee Webb
“Reupholstering The Fabric of Old Stories” Exhibition

James Webb holds a BFA from Eastern Kentucky University and a MFA from Southern Illinois University.  Prior to coming to Clay Art Center James taught at Mudflat Pottery School in Somerville, MA. His sculptural works have been exhibited widely and won many awards. His new, in-developing body of work talks about stories of reupholstering old couches with his deeply American-spirited immigrant grandmother. His work is reaching to get-at-the-heart of the very fabric of the stories about his grandmother and the ones she told of the old world. The show “Reupholstering The Fabric of Old Stories” is James’ way of retelling old stories in a more modern era with tea cups, plates and of course, teapots by stripping away the old fabric of stories and reupholstering them through his own voice. He was a Clay Art Center resident artist in 2019-20.

Artist Statement “I talk about stories of reupholstering old couches with my deeply American-spirited immigrant grandmother. The old, musky couches were always from a much different time. My grandmother grew up in hard times during World War II in East Germany, so she always had a lot to talk about. When I was old enough to help her renovate the large, dusty treasures, we would often break from upholstering them and eat bacon sandwiches together that were lathered in mayonnaise on both pieces of white bread. She was a provider. For me, there is an innate, natural connection between eating bacon and the beauty of old, freshly upholstered couches by synthesizing nostalgic memories.

I am fascinated by how I emotively respond to the visual tension of fresh fabric stretched like skin over an aged, bare bones wooden frame. My work reaches to get-at-the-heart of the very fabric of the stories about grandmother and the ones she told of the old world. I’m trying to reupholster the fabric of old stories by retelling them in terms of modernism—by stripping away the old fabric and remaking them through my own inner-monologue.

But those sturdy, bare bones of the stories never change even as stories are retold throughout grandfather time. We all reupholster old stories by retelling our own versions of them. My grandmother was a conversationalist and a storyteller. But what a perfect way to have meaningful conversation…starting with a cup of tea. Any old story can be made anew with a little love and care.”

Event Location and Ticket Information

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Clay Art Center
40 Beech Street
Port Chester, New York 10573
Handicap Accessible? Yes

Date: Wednesday, June 30, 2021
Times: 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Ticket pricing:
Free event

Presenter: Clay Art Center
Presenter Phone: 9149372047
Presenter Website:

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