Building Resilience: 2023 Summer Residency Session Preview

In this guest post, 2023 Summer Residency session co-organizers Holly Hanessian and Anna Metcalfe share their inspiration and ideas for Summer Residency Session II: Building Resilience. Additional artists anchoring the session include Julia Galloway, Tsehai Johnson, and Rachael Marne Jones. Space in the session is available for artists interested in joining the group at Watershed from June 5-16. Learn more and apply to join this session.

‘Hurricane Emergency Art Kit’ by Holly Hanessian


There is a small but mighty group in the ceramics community grappling with environmental issues in myriad ways. This session will bring together people who care deeply about climate change and who challenge themselves to express environmentally themed ideas through their work. Some of us work as potters, some make socially engaged community work, some think sculpturally or through installation, and all of us are thinking about how human culture impacts our earth.

The group anchoring the session includes Rachael Marne Jones, Tsehai Johnson, Julia Galloway, Holly Hanessian and Anna Metcalfe. Anna and Holly met in 2017 through the formation of the Socially Engaged Craft Collective. We share an interest in how community engagement and clay come together to explore environmental issues. Over the past several years, we’ve worked together in a number of ways and are incredibly excited about co-organizing this session at Watershed.

handmade ceramic place settings on black tablecloth

Image from one of Anna Metcalfe’s Pop-Up Picnics


We are interested in how collaboration, collectivism, and engagement can be tools for good in climate justice work. Our hope is that session participants will bring new methods for engagement, diverse interests and backgrounds, and a passion for making their communities better. We want to share our existing projects and think broadly about new ideas and how to move forward with our own and collective practices. And, of course, there’s clay – we hope to discover new magic in its vast materiality. 

We know that it can be challenging to keep momentum with this work, so we also hope to find time to walk together, eat, work, fire kilns and delight in the beauty that surrounds Watershed. And we have questions! 

  • How and what do we advocate for in our existing projects? 
  • How do we help develop new initiatives in communities that face systemic environmental injustices? 
  • How do we as artists create a catalyst for change that has a lasting impact? 
  • What does the materiality of clay bring to the climate conversation? 
  • And how do we find the support and community that is needed for the long-term nature of this work?

Last summer Holly helped develop a 5-minute video of 50+community members performing with solar lights at dusk to create “Eye on the Future”. She reflects, “Many of us didn’t know each other. We came together over two nights to perform movements at dusk with solar lamps. The pleasure of working together on something profound was beautiful. Everyone had a big goofy smile on their face from the experience.” 

We are hoping to have serious conversations and find lightness and goofy smiles, too. 

Learn more & apply to join Building Resilience. Scholarship support is available and open to all, with specific awards for artists of color, emerging artists, and international or multicultural artists. Application deadline: February 1, 2023.