Leigh Taylor Mickelson Named Clay Art Center Executive Director

Reena Kashyap finishing her 15th year as leader of non-profit organization.


Leigh Taylor Mickelson, who has been Clay Art Center’s program director for six years, is the new executive director of the Port Chester non-profit organization.

She was selected after Reena Kashyap, who has been executive director for 15 years, last year requested the organization's board to help her transition out of her position and to name a new executive director.

The board's HR committee announced the board voted unanimously to appoint Mickelson who takes over Nov. 1. She lives in Ossining, NY.

During her time as program director, Mickelson has helped shape the education and exhibition programs at Clay Art Center and has contributed toward the organization's growth.

“Leigh brings years of non-profit arts experience and knowledge of the ceramics field, and the board is fully supportive of her in her new leadership role as Executive Director,” said Bob Rattet, the art center board president. 

Mickelson is also an artist member at Clay Arts Center. In 2006, she moved to New York from Baltimore, MD, where she was the exhibitions director for Baltimore Clayworks for nine years. In her 15-year career as an arts administrator, she has curated dozens of ceramic exhibitions for galleries across the United States and has had several articles published in various art journal magazines.

In 1995, she received her Masters in Fine Arts, Ceramic Sculpture from Rochester Institute of Technology’s School for American Crafts. She has taught ceramics and workshops at art centers and universities on the East Coast and exhibits her own work widely across the nation.

She received a 2003 Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award for her abstract organic sculpture and her work was showcased in an article in the March 2005 issue of Ceramics Monthly.

Caitlin Applegate has also been named as the center's program manager.

Applegate has been at Clay Art Center since 2010, first through the Artist-in-Residence program and then in 2011 was awarded the first Barbara Rittenberg Fellowship. Previously, she worked in arts administration.

Applegate earned a BFA from the Hartford Art School, finished a year of post-baccalaurreate study in Anchorage, AK, and a residency at the Mendocino Art Center in Northern, CA. In 2004, she moved to Lincoln, NE, to pursue an MFA from the University of Nebraska Lincoln. During this period of study, Caitlin received honors including several awards from the University, a commission from the Lincoln Arts Council, and a grant from the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation.

Applegate completed an artist in residence at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in Omaha, NE, then moved to upstate New York, where she maintained an active studio practice in addition to teaching at SUNY Cortland and at the Cornell Ceramics Studio. Before coming to Clay Art Center in 2010, she was visiting assistant professor in ceramics at the School of Visual Arts at the Penn State University Park Campus. Her work has been exhibited both regionally and nationally.

Clay Art Center, located at 40 Beech St., Port Chester, is a not-for-profit ceramic art organization offering exhibitions, clay classes for adults and children, studio spaces for clay artists and outreach programs in the community.

Clay Art Center was founded 55 years ago, and has been a non-profit organization for five years.


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