Ceramics in a Transdisciplinary Studio: Summer Residency Session II Preview

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest

Process image from Summer Session II invited artist Leah Raintree’s “Estimated Ultimate Recovery (EUR)”

 

When artists think of Watershed, they may envision a studio filled with potters throwing functional pieces on the wheel, sculptors hand-building forms, and groups firing the atmospheric kilns at all hours. While all these scenes hold true, Watershed also provides space where artists who work across disciplines can explore and experiment with ways to integrate clay into their multifaceted practices. In 2015, Future Retrieval’s Katie Parker and Guy Michael Davis spearheaded a session that brought together artists who primarily work in media other than clay to investigate the role of ceramics in contemporary art and craft. In 2017, The Brick Factory, a performance and social practice-based collective, spent a summer residency working together on new projects. This summer, Fawn Krieger and Emily Weiner have created a new opportunity for artists who work across genres to connect during Summer Residency Session II: Ceramics in a Transdisciplinary Studio

Untitled piece by Session II invited artist Keiko Narahashi

 

During this session, artists who work in a variety of disciplines—from photography and video, to portraiture, painting, installation, and social practice—will explore how clay can integrate with other methods and materials. Over the course of the two weeks together, artists will work in clay with an eye to how the medium may meet with other media—as a foil, an aggregate, an extension, or a central player. The residency community will gather for several brainstorming sessions in order to foster exchange and inspiration between participants.

“Experiment in Resistance 4” by Session II Co-Organizer Fawn Krieger

 

Fawn Krieger’s multi-genre work examines themes of touch, ownership and exchange. Her projects transform spectators into participants, challenging expectations of agency, desire, and proximity. Krieger’s extensive planning routinely culminates in series of discrete sculptures, often produced from clay, plaster, and/or concrete; materials she notes collapse human time, and converge domestic and expansionist material histories. Krieger teaches Ceramics at Adelphi University.

“Harlequin” by Session II Co-Organizer Emily Weiner

 

Emily Weiner’s most recent works include a series of oil paintings placed in hand-built ceramic frames. In these paintings, symbols that have been repeated across cultures and epochs are put into a visual and playful conversation. In her practice, she asks: How do we read visual threads across history from antiquity and the Renaissance, to female and craft traditions of art-making, to archetypes in folklore and theater? Her paintings and integrated ceramic frames question what happens in the interplay between visual images and tactile experience. Emily teaches at The School of Visual Arts in Manhattan and Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. She is the founder and director of The Willows apartment show, and co-directed Soloway Gallery in Brooklyn from 2013-2017.

Video still from Invited Artist Wynne Greenwood’s “Culture Keeper”

 

The artists who Krieger and Weiner invited to anchor the session share an interest in how ceramics function in relationship with other studio approaches. In each case, they find the dynamic between clay and other mediums (2-, 3-, and 4D) provides fertile ground for exploration. Invited artists include Suzanne Goldenberg, Wynne Greenwood, Keiko Narahashi, Janine Polak, and Leah Raintree.

Space is available for any artist who wants to explore a cross-disciplinary practice and has experience working with clay to join this session. Signing up is a simple registration process. For those interested in participating with the support scholarships or work-exchanges, please apply here. Financial assistance applications are due February 15. 

 

 

Arlynn Nobel Reflects on the Magic of Watershed

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest

From her first step into Watershed’s rustic studio, Arlynn Nobel—a 2017 summer artist-in-residence and Watershed board member—hoped to discover what lay in this space that could ignite new ideas in her work. During the first day of her Watershed residency, she reflected that she “could feel the history” and could feel that this environment was “a hot bed for creativity.”

Arlynn Nobel during her 2017 residency.

Arlynn Nobel was born and raised in Detroit, but has lived and worked in Neebing, Ontario, a small town on the shore of Lake Superior in Canada, for many years. She earned her BFA from Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in 2007 and her MFA from University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in 2011. She describes herself as a “committed vessel maker, who enjoys challenging the limitations of the clay medium, opening up new avenues of expression by devising my own techniques for altering and assembling thrown forms.” Her experimental approach to ceramics drew her to Directly PlayfulWatershed’s 2017 Session III residency organized by Didem Mert. This group of mostly functional makers, which also included Lisa Buck, Ian Childers, Mike Cinelli, James Davis, Amanda Dobbratz, Rachel Donner, Bebe Federmann, Yoonjee Kwak, Hannah Medovnikov, Annie Morford, Ronan Peterson, Carla Prinster, and Koen Vrij, came together to explore surface, form, and collaboration during their two-week residency. Because of Arlynn’s extensive background in ceramics, including many workshops and years of school, she was drawn to Watershed’s unique non-hierarchical model. She reflects upon certain moments in the Watershed studio during her 2017 summer residency:

As I sat in front of my clay wondering what I would produce, it hit me—there were no instructors and no demos. I was in new territory. I realized that I had to dig deep within myself. All of a sudden I felt an intense sense of freedom and joy. I could make whatever I wanted to. I could explore unknown territories, or build on my current work, and there would be no critiques or professors with boundless instruction and input. I know that I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for all these wonderful professors and workshop leaders, but in that moment I felt free. So there I was, and I knew it could be the start of something magnificent.

I ordered my tried and true clay that I have been using for years. While I was waiting, I worked with the low-fire Watershed clay, which is full of grog and has opposite properties from what I’m used to. Using this clay I noticed something wonderful, and found that the Watershed clay’s qualities added a whole new element to my forms. I sent back my usual clay and I realized that changing clay bodies could jump start new and wonderful explorations in my work.

Arlynn experiments with her functional pieces using the Watershed clay.

The rough quality of the clay adds new elements to Arlynn’s pieces.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I could feel the boundless energy in the room from fifteen peers who were in the same boat. Everyone was warming up, getting to know each other. Session leader Didem Mert was great. She walked around to see how everyone was doing and suggested that people collaborate. What?? Have someone else decorate my precious work?! I had never done that before. Much to my surprise I loved the collaborations. They gave me ideas of how to shake things up and make my work better. Koen Vrij, a fellow resident, walked over one day and suggested I use the feet from my bowls for my mugs. They looked fantastic (thank you, Koen!).

 

2017 Session III’s pieces waiting to be fired.

Artists unload the kiln of their finished work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ultimately, the answer to my question of what makes Watershed life-changing, is that within this space I found what comes next. How wonderful there is a place like Watershed to nurture our passions.”

One of Arlynn’s finished pieces.

 

The Surface Exchange: Summer Session V Preview

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest

In this guest post, artist and session leader Shanna Fliegel shares her plans for Watershed 2017 Residency Session V: The Surface Exchange. Several spots are still available for those interested in joining the group from August 12-24. Additional participants include guest artist Mariko Paterson and AIA members Sukjin Choi, Melissa Mencini, Brooke Noble, and Adams Puryear.

Learn more and register for this session.

Shanna Fliegel

 

Several years ago, I was invited to a Watershed session, but my responsibilities as a new mom took precedence. Life can be so messy, exhausting, and scripted at times but I kept the idea of coming to Watershed with me. Watershed exists as a wild, magical bubble “somewhere” in Maine…somewhere in my imagination. The stories I have heard about the clay, raw wildness of the area, and strength of the community have settled inside of me. Throughout my journey with clay I have always felt gratitude for places like Watershed-places that cultivate space and time for artists to connect, work, think, and make. Now more than ever, I feel a personal need to visit Watershed and share with those who also need a place to anchor them in order to make new work, or just make new friends. I see this residency as a quiet breath of fresh air with a dash of collaborative babble.

Fliegel works on a pot

 

As artists, we may regularly feel the allure of multiple approaches to surface and form in clay, but choose to pigeon-hole our work into a rigid “look” or identity. During this Watershed session, I envision our group transcending the normal fall backs we often rely on and branching out to try new techniques and materials. Seeds of change take time to grow, but the Watershed residency offers the perfect opportunity to nurture the experimentation we often avoid out of convenience, fear, deadlines, or lack of time.

Detail of a plate by guest artist Mariko Paterson

 

I invited artists to anchor the session based on the diversity of their surface methods while also considering the variety of forms they work with. Several participants use surface as a place to “draw” on their clay, adding narrative, figurative, or decorative elements to their work. Others approach surface through texture, layering, and material experimentation. Through informal demonstrations, a collaborative tile exchange and brainstorming exercises to generate imagery, we will investigate a wide range of strategies for developing the surface of our work and explore techniques that are both familiar and new to us. I plan to share drawing methods I use to create visual depth on a flat surface in order to “push” or “pull” imagery to the background or foreground of a piece. I also plan to share a simple screen printing technique called thermo-faxing or thermal imaging. Participants will have the opportunity to experiment with underglaze, mason stains, slip, and oxides. We’ll also spend time exploring mishima, sgrafitto, stencils, stamps, glazes, luster, and decals. 

Work in progress by Shanna Fliegel

 

I am thrilled to have organized The Surface Exchange and look forward to sharing this fruitful adventure with other artists and makers! 

Read more about the Surface Exchange and sign up to join the session.

Break Tradition at Watershed! 2018 Summer Session I Preview

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest

Breaking Tradition Guest Artist Ben Medansky

 

During Session I: Breaking Tradition (June 3-15), artists and designers will come together to explore new modes of making, marketing, and showing work. Rather than situating ceramics solely in stores and white-walled galleries, artists are bringing attention to their work by exhibiting in non-traditional physical and digital spaces. Dinners that double as pop-up sales, homes that serve as storefronts, and Instagram-ready lifestyle shoots provide context for clay pieces and attract audiences through multifaceted experiences. The session is anchored by a group of artists, designers, and curators interested in how these creative methods of generating visibility are influencing the ceramics field and transforming the way twenty-first century makers run small businesses.

Taylor Carter

 

Taylor Carter, of the Cincinnati-based design studio CKTC, has organized the residency. She explains, “My goal for this session is to create an open environment for artists, designers, and curators to make work together. Our time at Watershed will give us the opportunity to harmonize our different areas of making. With access to the facilities at Watershed, we can create collaborative work and generate new ideas that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.”

Ben Medansky

 

Guest artist Ben Medansky joins the residency from Los Angeles. His work is often inspired by patterns, repetitions, and variations found in both natural and industrial environments. Influenced by modernist architecture and industrial design, Medansky’s pieces give a nod to mechanical processes while maintaining the variation and individuality found in handmade objects.

Lindsey Hampton

 

Carter recruited a variety of participants to anchor the session, including Vancouver-based artist Lindsey Hampton, whose background in graphic design pairs seamlessly with her clay practice. By harnessing the power of photography and social media to share her dreamy and playful pastel ceramic pieces, she relates her clay work to her range of creative pursuits. Multi-disciplinary artist Mérida Anderson has a background in fashion and is also a talented cook. They successfully use pop-up events, like their Vegan Secret Supper Clubs in New York, Montreal, and Vancouver, to develop relationships with new audiences in informal settings. Shannon Maldonado also got her start in fashion but now curates a lifestyle shop (which happens to also be her home), Yowie, in Philly.  Ali Karsh studied industrial design and psychology before finding her way to clay. She aims to “create simple pleasures and positive interactions” through her designs.

Portland, Maine-based studio potter, Ayumi Horie, will also visit Watershed during the residency to speak about her work and methods of connecting with communities around the country and world. Most ceramic artists on Instagram know her widely followed and ongoing curatorial project, Pots In Action, and many have engaged with her project  The Democratic Cup, which encourages civic and political engagement.

Connect with this wonderful group of makers during Breaking Tradition! Space is available for any artist who is comfortable working in a clay studio to participate. 

REGISTER

Watershed Board “Passes the Torch” to New Leadership Team

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest

Joyce Cohen, Paul Stark, and Chris Gustin

Watershed is fortunate to have a dedicated group of extraordinary people who serve on our Board of Trustees and Advisory Council. At a recent meeting in St. Petersburg, Florida, board members were graciously welcomed to the St. Pete ceramics community by friends affiliated with the Morean Center for Clay, the Morean Arts Center, and the Chihuly Collection.

Our board held two days of meetings and “passed the torch” of leadership from Paul Stark to Joyce Cohen. We thank Paul for his years of service as board President and are thrilled to welcome Joyce to her new role!

Joyce Cohen joined the Watershed Board of Trustees in 2015. She spent many years as Assistant Professor of Art History at Simmons College in Boston, MA, and retired from teaching in 2012. At Simmons she taught popular courses on contemporary art and created a class focused on the collections in several of Boston’s preeminent museums. She also developed an arts administration major that connected students with diverse performing and visual arts organizations in New York City. Her research focused on self-taught artists and new relationships between art and craft, with her work largely centered on women artists in the mainstream like Kiki Smith, and “outsider artists” including Gayleen Aikens, Clementine Hunter, and Nellie Mae Rowe. Joyce also served on the Collections Committee and the Board of Trustees of the Fuller Craft Museum and was Advisor to the Foundation of Self-Taught Artists. Prior to her tenure in the academic world, Joyce worked as a partner with Aptekar/Cohen Arts Management, helping collectors acquire art for corporate spaces and private collections.

We are also delighted that long-time board member JoAnn Schnabel is our new Vice President. JoAnn is a ceramic artist and Professor of Art at the University of Northern Iowa. Her work includes modular pieces often inspired by natural forms and sculptures that reference the vessel tradition. She has exhibited nationally and internationally, and her work is included in numerous public and private collections.

In addition to these leadership changes, the board welcomed three new trustees:

  • Patricia Harrington of Portland, ME – currently maintains a ceramics practice, retired from planning and management positions in the private and public sectors
  • Don Ridley of Phoenix, AZ – ceramic artist and Department Head for Ceramics at the Phoenix Center for the Arts
  • Sharon Townshend of Durham, ME – ceramic artist and long-time Watershed board member (including roles as past president and secretary)

and three new Advisory Council members:

  • Susan Beiner of Phoenix, AZ – ceramic artist and Lincoln Endowed Chair of Ceramics at Arizona State University
  • Lynn Peters of Worth, IL – ceramic artist and Professor at Moraine Valley Community College, Palos Hills, IL
  • Hope Rovelto of Portland, ME – ceramic artist, print maker, and owner of Little Chair Printing

We also bid farewell to Trustees Jim Lawton and Tim Zajac, and Advisory Council members Alexandra Forst, Shawn O’Connor, and Melissa Stern. They have all contributed their time, talents, and resources to supporting Watershed over the years and will be greatly missed.

See a full list of Watershed Trustees and Advisory Council members.

Watershed Celebrates Ceramic Masters

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest

Since 2007, Watershed has recognized influential ceramic artists who are innovators, leaders, and mentors within the clay community. We honor these artists as Legends via programming that shines a spotlight on their contributions and careers.

This year, Watershed is pleased to honor Wayne Higby, Jack Troy, and Paula Winokur as our newest Legends. Throughout 2017, Watershed hosted public talks, workshops, and exhibitions featuring the honorees. On October 7, we held a culminating celebration in Philadelphia to recognize all they have accomplished. The event included an awards ceremony, along with an exhibition reception at The Clay Studio. The exhibit featuring the Legends work is on view at The Clay Studio from October 6 through November 26, 2017.

During the awards ceremony, held at the historic Arch Street Meeting House, keynote speaker Glenn Adamson looked back at the Legends’ accomplishments and influence on the ceramics field. Gallerist and critic Helen Drutt English served as Master of Ceremonies. Each of the Legends received a one-of-a-kind handmade tea bowl created by artist Sin-ying Ho in a wooden box crafted by artist Jim Lawton. Watershed board member Gretchen Keyworth presented Wayne Higby with his award, Watershed founder Chris Gustin presented the award to Jack Troy, and Watershed board member Nancy Selvin presented the award to her longtime friend Paula Winokur. 

The 2017 Legends also took part in Watershed’s conversation series, Elemental Intersections. The series consisted of three discussions examining the common connections between art, environmental concerns, and our relationship to the natural world. The Legends were each featured in one of the conversations and were joined by scientists and others working in natural resource-based fields to investigate how art can illuminate environmental issues in innovative and unique ways.

The first talk on water examined the work of Paula Winokur and looked critically at how melting polar ice and rising ocean temperatures have created changes in the Gulf of Maine. Marine biologist Bob Steneck provided a scientific perspective while lobsterman Gerry Cushman discussed how the Gulf’s warming water is impacting the livelihood of Maine fishermen.

During the second talk on fire and forests, Jack Troy shared how he creates work via processes that rely on fire and wood, while ecologist Nick Fisichelli discussed Maine’s forested landscape, and Maine Guide Polly Mahoney shared about her experiences in Maine’s wilderness. 

The final talk explored the differing ways that the people of Maine relate to the state’s coastal landscape. During the conversation, Wayne Higby discussed his celebrated Landscape Bowls, which were inspired by Maine’s craggy coastline. Wayne was joined by marine geologist Joe Kelly, who spoke about the dynamic changes of beaches and estuaries, and Donna Loring of the Penobscot Nation, who shared about the theater, film, and music programs of Seven Eagles Media, which provides a platform for Maine Native People’s voices and experiences.

The talks were supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and were organized in partnership with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. Nationally recognized radio producer and speaker Julie Burstein facilitated the conversations. Burstein is producing a series of podcasts based on her conversations with all three Legends – we look forward to sharing these with you in the near future.  

 

Thank You For a Wonderful Summer Season!

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest

We are grateful for all the artists, staff, friends, supporters, and collaborators who helped make the 2017 residency season so special at Watershed. Please enjoy a few memories and photos from each of our 2017 summer sessions; we hope to see many of you back here again in the future!

Summer Staff Arrival & Pre-Session

During the final weeks of May, our summer staff crew arrived and began settling in for the season ahead. Shortly after their arrival, Pre-Session artist-volunteers joined them to help prepare the cabins, studio, and grounds for the summer. They worked in unpredictable weather on a wide variety of projects that required lots of elbow grease and good humor. From painting cabins to clearing brush, their positive attitudes shone throughout the 10-day session.  The artist-volunteers had evenings and the weekend free to work in the studio, and they produced a surprising amount of work during their brief stay.

Session I: Earth, Water and Fire, June 4-16

Our first ’17 session was organized by Berry Matthews and featured guest artist Trisha Coates. A number of participants’ practices centered around installation-based work, but we saw everything from cups and bowls to videos come to life in the studio. Thirteen artists braved both chilly temps and a heat wave while creating a wide range of functional and sculptural work. During the second week, the group gathered in the woods for an evening lighting of Matthews’ fire installation – a highlight for all involved!

Session II: The Object’s Not the Point, June 18-30

During Watershed’s second summer session, The Brick Factory collective anchored a residency that explored the possibilities of performance and socially engaged ceramic work. The collective formed at Watershed in 2011 and has maintained an online presence and dialog, but this session provided a rare opportunity for them to work together in person. They were joined by guest artist/theorist/curator Namita Gupta Wiggers and a group of socially engaged artists from around the country. Over the course of their two-week session, resident artists staged a number of performances around the Watershed campus and created work in the studio that served as props and stand-alone pieces.

 Session III: Directly Playful, July 2-19

Artist Didem Mert returned for her second residency to lead this mid-summer session focused on experimentation and collaboration. Most, if not all, participants worked together on numerous pieces, pushing their work in new directions and exploring unfamiliar possibilities. The studio brimmed with pieces drying on every available surface as the artists passed collaborative work back and forth and celebrated each other’s successes and discoveries. The session culminated in a farm-to-table dinner served on ceramic place settings made by the artists. After the meal, the group traded pieces with one another, taking home each other’s work as mementos of their time together. 

 Session IV: Reawakenings, July 23-August 4

Areas of vibrant artistic growth are influencing the cultural development of small cities across the country. This session, anchored by a group of diverse ceramic artists with roots in Tulsa, Oklahoma, provided an opportunity for artists to discuss how their practices and creative communities are contributing to the areas where they live.

 Session V: Confluence and Influence, August 6-18

Guest artist Matt Wedel joined large-scale sculptors and functional potters alike during this session that explored how working alongside one another in Watershed’s communal studio would influence participants’ work.  As the resident artists responded to and supported each other’s varied styles of making, the commonalities found among shared techniques, materials, and ideas fostered opportunities for creative experimentation and growth.

 Session VI: Atmospheric Firing, August 20-28

Guest artist and Watershed Legend Jack Troy led fifteen artists through the wood and gas kiln firing process during this jam-packed one week session. Participants covered every surface on the Watershed kiln pad with their work and then carefully stacked pieces in four different atmospheric kilns. After firing through the day(s) and night, the artists compared results from the variety of firing processes they utilized. (Plus, they got to watch the solar eclipse together in the midst of kiln-firing excitement.) The session also featured one of Watershed’s Elemental Intersections conversations – a panel discussion series on art, science, and our relationship to the natural world. This second talk in the series, focused on the power and grandeur of forests and fire, featured Jack Troy, forest ecologist Nick Fisichelli, and Maine Guide/outdoorswoman Polly Mahoney.

Thanks to our 2017 Summer Staff!

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest

As we wrap up our summer season and begin our fall residency, we send off our outstanding 2017 summer staff team to their next adventures. Nine summer staffers joined us in mid-May and over the course of 15 weeks, they worked incredibly hard through six residency sessions and our busy summer program schedule. From art walks and artists talks, to workshops and the most successful Salad Days yet, we could not have done it without them. We look forward to seeing what comes next for these artists!

 

Stephen Aleckna

 

Stephen Aleckna, Chef
Where are you from?  Philadelphia, PA
What are some themes in your work? Experimentation, unpredictability, surface treatment 
What’s next for you? I’ll be returning to my position as Head Chef at the University of Pennsylvania’s Museum of Archeology.
What has been your favorite Watershed moment?  Helping design and execute the “Last Supper” residency dinner for our third session.

 

 

Austin Bradshaw

 

Austin Bradshaw, Studio Staff
Where are you from? Kansas City, MO
What are some themes in your work? Nature, craft, family, minimalism, Scandinavian design, form
What’s next for you? I’ll be working in Kansas City, and then looking forward to a post bacc in Colorado next year.
What has been your favorite Watershed moment?  Lighting off our own fireworks and fishing trips.

 

 

Emily Christopherson

 

Emily Christopherson, House Manager
Where are you from? Oak Park, Chicago
What are some themes in your work? Simplicity & Craft
What’s next for you? I’ll be returning to Chicago, and am planning to teach with the Art Reach program. I’ll also be making more new work in my studio.
What has been your favorite Watershed moment?  Listening to Redd rap in the kitchen & overhearing kitchen shenanigans!

 

 

Sean Lofton

 

Sean Lofton, Studio Staff
Where are you from? Jacksonville, FL
What are some themes in your work? Planar relationships, minimalist architecture, monolithic structures 
What’s next for you? I’ll be finishing my degree and applying to residencies.
What has been your favorite Watershed moment? I’ve enjoyed taking group trips to the Rachel Carson Salt Pond.

 

 

Ken Lu

 

Ken Lu, Studio Staff
Where are you from? Currently studying in West Virginia (from Singapore originally)
What are some themes in your work? Geometry, functionality, chemistry, cubes, carbon trapping and manipulation of form
What’s next for you? I will be finishing the final year of my MFA at the University of West Virginia.
What has been your favorite Watershed moment?  Seeing the Milky Way.

 

 

Brian McNamara

 

Brian McNamara, Dining Hall Manager
Where are you from? Sunny Southern California 
What are some themes in your work? Garbage, trash, rocks, religion, play, and I guess aliens 
What’s next for you? I’ll be moving to Syracuse to work as an assistant to Jeremy Randall.
What has been your favorite Watershed moment? Having no expectations in the studio – I can build and draw whatever the heck I want. Freedom has been my Watershed moment.

 

 

Adam Redd

 

Adam ReddHead Chef/Problem Solver
Where are you from? Northern California
What are some themes in your work? Art for art’s sake, color
What’s next for you? I’ll be moving to Portland, Maine to pursue a culinary career.
What has been your favorite Watershed moment? Setting off our own fireworks for the Fourth of July!

 

 

 

Catherine Velazquez

 

Catherine Velasquez, Studio Staff
Where are you from? Baton Rouge, LA 
What are some themes in your work? Playfulness, color blocking, full and hearty forms
What’s next for you? I’ll be moving to Boulder, Colorado and then working on applying for residencies.
What has been your favorite Watershed moment? Austin and Christina, our Salad Days Artist, randomly dropping a sorority girl squat on their way to the studio.

 

 

Laura Williams

 

Laura WilliamsOffice Assistant
Where are you from? Chicago, IL  
What are some themes in your work? Figure, line, color, composition 
What’s next for you? I’ll be returning to my lovely cat and partner in Chicago, teaching, and continuing to make.
What has been your favorite Watershed moment?  Late studio nights, kiln pad discussions and meeting fabulous new people.     

 

Thanks to our 2017 Summer Staff for a fantastic summer!

 

 

 

Making in clay at the Jackson Memorial Library

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest

Summer Office Assistant Laura Williams shares her experience teaching clay techniques to a group of youth in St. George, Maine.

Before coming to Watershed, I taught and made in Chicago, Illinois at Magical Minds Studio, an after school program providing students with a space to learn about and make art. I knew when I accepted the job in Watershed’s office that I’d miss my home studio, but felt the opportunity to work for Watershed and live in Midcoast Maine was worth the time away.  So, when the Jackson Memorial Library invited Watershed to lead a two day workshop with the youth of St. George, I was thrilled. Brian McNamara, another summer staff member also volunteered. Together we put together our two day lesson; the first day focused on mask-making and the second day was devoted to using coils to create vessels.

Attaching coils to the base

We worked in the Watershed claybody, a terracotta earthenware that was deposited outside the Watershed studio back when Watershed served as a brick factory. Before diving into the first clay project with the students, we discussed the clay mining process and the kids excitedly pulled apart their material in search of rocks and other matter typically found in ground clay. The children’s work, when fired, will form a lovely brick color.  

During the first day of instruction, Brian demonstrated how to throw a slab by picking up a piece of clay and throwing it at an angle onto the table. This process manipulates the shape of the material, forming a clay sheet. While many students enjoyed throwing the clay to create a flat surface, others chose to roll out the slab with a baker’s pin. Next, we laid our slabs over a ball of newspaper to form the desired facial shape. Participants then formed eyes, mouths, ears, cat whiskers and other details to bring the pieces to life.

Slipped finished form

The second day, we developed our abilities in coiling. After building a base, we slipped and scored each coil, laying them atop one another to gain height. Slipping and scoring refers to a ceramic process by which makers create texture on either side of the two pieces which are being attached. The maker then applies “slip” or soft, wet clay atop the texture as a sort of ceramic glue. This technique ensures the two pieces dry together and allow for a proper connection. Once we’d achieved the desired shape and size we painted our works with slips to be fired.

The workshop took place over two weekday mornings; and despite the time of day, the library was bustling. During the ceramics lesson, a tai chi class met outside, book seekers came and went, and workshop participants happily conversed with spectators about making in clay.  A group of local teachers met next door to prepare for the upcoming school year, and they stopped in to say hello, recognizing most of our participants. It quickly became clear that the library serves as a gathering hub for the St. George Community.

As the children’s pieces fire in our kiln, I feel lucky to have taught  this hard working and receptive group in such a beautiful and welcoming space. The children will soon have their work returned to them and will hopefully continue to make in clay.

Masks dry in the sun on the path to the library

A Summer Celebration of Food & Ceramics

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest

As the last days of July fly by and we welcome the start of August next week, we wanted to share a few photos from a Watershed mid-season celebration. During the final evening of our third 2017 residency session, our talented chefs, Adam Redd and Stephen Aleckna, treated residents and staff to a decadent five-course meal. Artists set a banquet table overlooking the meadow and neighboring farms, and decorated it with wildflowers arranged in handmade vases. Throughout the meal, the cooks plated each course on dinnerware sets created by the artists-in-residence; and following dessert, the group traded pieces from the sets to take home. It was a true celebration of creativity, local food, and summer with our wonderful ceramics community!  

Session leader Didem Mert smiles among friends as the delicious appetizers are served.

Summer staff member, Catherine Velasquez, enjoys the warm summer evening with the group.

Our location on the coast of Maine allows us to indulge in the best oysters around!

We raised our handmade ceramic cups to toast the chefs’ amazing work.

Ronan Peterson, Bebe Federmann, and Lisa Buck smile for a photo.

The beautifully plated main course on a plate made by Rachel Donner.

The meal was topped off with a delicious dessert made by Executive Director Fran Rudoff!

 

Thanks to the chefs, summer staff, and artists who made this event such a lovely celebration!