Pottery On Parade
Ceramics maven Reena Kashyap, Director of Port Chester's Clay Art CenteR, fills her home with cherished items from her family, her travels, and her craft
Photography by John O'Donnell
As the director of the Clay Art Center, Reena Kashyap is surrounded by her beloved craft at her job. But it doesn’t stop when the five o’clock whistle blows; Kashyap’s charming colonial home in Rye is sprinkled with ceramics made by her Center colleagues and clay artists from around the word. Kashyap’s favorite pieces are culled from her extensive pottery collection along with treasured furnishings and decorative pieces that were passed down by family in her native India and purchased during decades of worldwide travel with her husband, Pradeep.
Purchased at an antiques store in Rajasthan, India, three decades ago, this octagonal box is covered in a complex floral design. “I started collecting silver back when I was in college, and this was one of the first pieces that I bought after I got married.”
Kashyap knew she had to buy this terra cotta vessel by Nova Scotian artist Joan Bruneau the second it made its way to the Clay Art Center shop. “It has beautiful botanical references, and the low-fire glazes give the vase a very glossy and succulent look.”
You Say Chest, I Say Table
Kashyap uses this wood and brass-studded chest purchased in Gujarat, India, as a table to display photos and other mementos. Her mother had a similar chest, she says. “They were traditionally given to brides in India to store blankets, saris, and shawls.”
It’s a Wrap
This hand-embroidered jamawar scarf from Kashmir was passed down to Kashyap by her mother. “There’s nothing machine-made about it. It’s very labor intensive; just like a tapestry but in a shawl length.”
Kashyap fell in love with this porcelain teapot by Rhode Island ceramicist Eunjung Park when it was exhibited at the Clay Art Center 10 years ago. “It’s very delicate and unusual, and the craftsmanship is exquisite,” Kashyap says. While more imaginative than functional, an asparagus serves as the spout while a central flower houses the teapot top.
“This copper and brass coffee pot I bought in Dubai is just like the kinds you see in pictures of Bedouins sitting in a tent,” Kashyap says.
The intricately designed silver legs on this glass table were originally posts on Kashyap’s grandmother’s bed. “My mother made it into a table with wooden slats connecting the legs, but, when she gave it to me, I removed them and filled the holes with more silver.”
This four-foot-tall drink container was created by Andrew Coombs, a resident artist at the Clay Art Center. “Andrew donated it to our annual fundraiser, and my husband surprised me by buying it for me. We entertain a lot, and use it for festive cocktails—it can hold 50 drinks.”
Cup of Plenty
“The most intimate form of ceramics is a cup,” Kashyap says. “Somebody made it by hand, and then you use your hands to put it to your lips, so the connection continues.” Her own creations share kitchen space with some 100 other handcrafted cups and bowls she’s collected over the years.