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.