Biomorphic Idyll: 2020 Summer Session II Preview

In this guest post, Meaghan Gates shares the inspiration and ideas that led her to organize 2020 Summer Residency Session II: Biomorphic Idyll. Additional participating artists include Sara Catapano, Angela Cunningham, Sasha Koozel Reibstein, and Andrew Leo Stansbury. Limited space in the session is available for those interested in joining the group from June 21 – July 3. Learn more and register for this session.

Meaghan Gates

 

My interest in creating biomorphic sculptural work started at the potter’s wheel back in 2008 after observing the cut off refuse of the functional forms that I had been making. Looking at these piles of clay, I was reminded of the structures of mushrooms or organisms within a coral reef. There were so many undulating symmetrical and asymmetrical shapes that I could create and arrange in formations which could become my own amalgamations of the natural world. As I veered down this path of biomorphic abstraction, I began to observe this fascination with organic forms across the field of ceramics. There is a quality to this building style that stirs an interest in the uncanny. To create something in clay that takes on its own life-like qualities and then to make it a permanent form can be an addictive act.    

Sasha Koozel Reibstein

 

Over the years I have made friends and acquaintances that share my interest in organically inspired forms. We have continued to follow one another’s work over the years and support each other’s creative pursuits. This residency is giving some of us the opportunity to convene and have a more in-depth dialogue about what we are actually doing. Whether we stick to a close interpretation of reality or develop work that is more abstract, those of us that are interested in this style of work have noticed commonalty in the content we are creating. Through our acute and intense studies of the natural world, inspiration can be drawn from a variety of sources; from the patterns across the surface of an organism, or variations in color, to the functionality of anatomical structures. I have seen some makers who focus on challenging themselves through the way they create a form, their conceptual aspirations, and the way in which some put it all out there for their audience to engage and interact with. The group that is coming together for Session 2 will work through these ideas and provide inspiration for one another to build off of in an intimate setting along the coast of Maine.  

Andrew Leo Stansbury

 

Watershed is a prime location for those who are inspired by the natural world. The facilities are surrounded by lush greenery, rivers, ponds, and the Atlantic Ocean. During our time we will have the opportunity to draw from local flora and fauna for visual content. We will also discuss with each other what our work is aiming to achieve while physically working through new ideas. From sculptural objects to performance-based mix-media work, this residency session will provide a place to create among other ceramic artists using a variety of approaches within a common theme. There will be a bit of everything within this greater theme of the organically inspired.

Register for Biomorphic Idyll today.

Resisting: Surface & Form Explorations: 2020 Summer Session III Preview

In this guest post, Shalya Marsh and Naomi Clement share the inspiration and ideas that led them to organize 2020 Summer Residency Session III: Resisting: Surface and Form Explorations. Additional participating artists include Marianne Chenard, Arthur Halvorsen, Mike Gesiakowski, Jill Oberman, Lindsay Rogers, and Adero Willard. Space in the session is available for those interested in joining the group from July 5-17. Learn more and register for this session.

Shalya Marsh

 

Looking at our work side by side, there are no immediate similarities; Naomi makes brightly colored and decorated functional vessels and Shalya makes elegant abstract porcelain sculptures. However, both of us rely heavily on the use of resist techniques when making our work. Whether analog or digital, we each use resist processes to create specific imagery and develop layered surfaces. 

The idea for this session was born of this shared use of resist techniques, and our interest in working alongside other artists who use this approach in their process. Our hope is that this session will bring together makers working across the ceramic spectrum with a common interest in resist processes so that we can learn from one another. In this spirit of experimentation, a key part of this residency will be a shared “create space” that will allow participants to experiment with a variety of tools and materials such as laser and die cut paper and vinyl stencils, shellac, latex and wax resist. A Klick n Kut die cutter capable of cutting a wide range of materials and a Thermofax for easy screens for printing will be also be available for use.  All artists will be encouraged to share methods and tools to explore new avenues for their work through daily short demonstrations and conversations, as well as some collaborative exercises.

Naomi Clement

 

We view this residency as an opportunity to dive in and experiment with ideas and processes that are new to us, and with less of a focus on finished, resolved work. It is always amazing what new work can come from asking the simple question, “what if?” We are eager to learn from invited artists and session participants, and look forward to sharing our own knowledge with the group. Participants are encouraged to come to this residency with this same spirit of curiosity and fun!

We can’t wait to see what emerges from this residency!

Join this session today! Registrations are accepted on a first-come, first served basis. Scholarship applications are due 2/15. The session takes place during Watershed’s annual Salad Days celebration, and participating artists will get to take part in the festivities.

Agents of Change: 2020 Summer Session IV Preview

In this guest post, Bech Evans and Margaret Kinkeade share the inspiration and ideas that led the Kindred Clay collective to organize 2020 Summer Residency Session IV: Agents of Change. Additional participating artists include Christina Erives, Roberto Lugo, and Brooks Oliver. Space in the session is available for those interested in joining the group from July 20-August 1. Learn more and register for this session.

Christina Erives

 

Graduate school is a kind of trench that forges friendships between the most incompatible and dissimilar people. That’s not exactly us. We have rare chemistry and huge admiration for each other, as makers and as people. We love each other’s work and envy each other’s skill sets. I (Bech here) have, at some point, secretly wished to be and have the experiences of each in this group.

As ceramic grad school cronies, we enjoy an uncommon diversity in our group. We’ve had conflicts and have real differences. From the way we experience the world as a result of our bodies and identities, down to the work we make and how we make it. Sustaining and deepening our friendships and collaborating professionally over the last eight years has required vulnerability, acceptance, personal growth, and adaptation. We’re all navigating our way through lives and careers, and maintaining a group identity has involved lots of growth, trust, and forgiveness.   

Margaret Kinkeade

 

I (Margaret here) organized this session because I wanted two weeks of studio time and conversation with friends from my past and my future. I wanted to meet you and to learn about what makes you, you. Why do you make work? Who do you make work for? We’re looking for two weeks of face-to-face conversations in a progressively distant and digital world—conversations that challenge our preconceived ideas of who we are, who we should be, what we have in common, and where we’re different. We’re looking for growth.

I (Bech here) have spent the last four and a half years in the field of student affairs.  A field that prioritizes and engages, in an explicit way, work like diversity, equity, and inclusion; social justice; and intercultural consciousness. As a group—as friends—we’ve navigated this work in a mostly individual, intuitive, and implicit way over the last eight years.

This will be a really new experience for us, and perhaps for you too. I want to tell you more about what you can expect.

 “We want people to be woke, but we don’t want to create the space for people to wake up.” —Jamie Washington

Roberto Lugo

 

None of us can, once and for all, figure out how to foster diversity or acquire social justice, because every person and community is complex and different. We can, however, build skills and practices that support equity and inclusion in our relationships and communities. I’m excited to explore three areas during our time at Watershed: identity development (awareness of our multiple, intersecting identities, our privilege, and our marginalization), social justice (just distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges in society), and intercultural consciousness (communicating across differences and building meaningful relationships). We’ll approach these conversations and activities with the same hands-on, risk-filled approach we take when we attend a hands-on studio workshop.

Brooks Oliver

 

We’ll explore how our own identities shape our worldview, our view of ourselves and others, and how they influence our behavior. You can expect small group conversation and individual reflection. The aim is to spend time in real conversations learning from each other and, just like making and creating, these conversations involve risk-taking and vulnerability! A big part of this work is being willing to make mistakes and learning how to navigate and contend with the fear and shame that often paralyzes us. We will learn and grow and change during our two weeks together.

Margaret here. Is what Bech wrote exciting you? Does it challenge your idea of a ceramics residency? Does that bring up some fear or anxiety for you? Me too.

Trying new things in the studio can be a quiet, solitary exploration with a humble material and generous room for unseen failures. But I think that of the objects I’ve made, the ones I’ve loved the most came as a result of conversation. Conversations with the material, myself, and my peers about how it functions, how it feels in the hand, if it’s honest enough, if it’s “good” enough, why it didn’t work. Just think of this as an extension of your practice. Delve deeper into the internal dialogue about what you make, who you are, and how you fit into our intimate and extended community by inviting others into it. This is a chance to be vulnerable, to ask questions, and to be brave both in conversation and in the studio. We hope you’ll join us.

Register here to join Kindred Clay for this session.

Soda Pop!: 2020 Summer Session V Preview

In this guest post, session organizers Trudy Chiddix and Tara Sartorius share the inspiration and ideas that led them to organize 2020 Summer Residency Session V: Soda Pop! Additional participating artists include Maya Blume-Cantrell, Meredith Knight, Stacy Morgan, Jan Schachter, and Marion Toms, along with guest artist Nancy Selvin. Space in the session is available for those interested in joining the group from August 9-August 21. Learn more and register for this session.

Guest Artist Nancy Selvin

 

Soda Pop! co-leaders Trudy Chiddix and Tara Sartorius became friends as undergraduate ceramics students at UC Santa Barbara. We both created work with vivid colors and patterns and enjoyed collaborating with others, especially during festive celebrations.

We now live far apart: Tara in Alabama and Trudy in California. Over the years we have continued our friendship and our ceramic practices, but in independent studios. Last year at NCECA 2019 in Minneapolis, we reminisced about the positive energy of the communal studio at UCSB with its easy exchange of ideas, sharing of experimental results and opportunities for collaboration. 

Vintage photo of Soda Pop! co-leaders Tara Sartorius and Trudy Chiddix

 

We decided to seek a group creative experience that would encourage growth in our work, fun in the studio, and friendships with new artists.  A Watershed “Artists Invite Artists” residency seemed like the perfect fit. We were attracted to the beautiful surroundings, studio facilities, abundant kilns, delicious food, and the opportunity for uninterrupted time in the studio. 

It was a natural decision to focus on experimentation with color in a cone 10 soda kiln, because we love color and neither of us has a soda kiln. When we learned that Watershed’s studio manager is very involved with soda firing and willing to coach us, we could not resist the opportunity to expand our artistic vocabulary.

Trudy and Tara working in their studios

 

Both Trudy and Tara are “friend gatherers.” We gathered artists from Alabama and California, inviting those whose work ranges from sculptural to functional.  We all share a sense of curiosity, a willingness to explore the unknown, and a desire to communicate with others.

Participating from Alabama:

  • Maya Blume-Cantrell – Celebrating nature and rhythm in form
  • Stacy Morgan – Creating dynamic glazes and textural surfaces
  • Meredith Knight – Unifying sculptural structures & concepts
  • Tara Sartorius – Exploring narratives using diverse materials

Meredith Knight

 

Participating from California:

  • Trudy Chiddix – Connecting pattern, form and mixed media
  • Jan Schachter – Focusing on well-crafted functional forms
  • Nancy Selvin – Linking the past with the present
  • Marion Toms – Maximizing minimalism in useful objects

Jan Schachter

 

“Soda Pop!” is our lighthearted way of expressing the vibrant results we’ll be seeking. In addition to experimenting with colored slips, glazes, stains, etc. in the soda kiln, we hope to share ideas, sources of inspiration, and images of interest. We look forward to discussing art and aesthetics in general and ceramics in particular. We’ll encourage presentations by participants who would like to show images of their work to the group.

Trudy Chiddix

 

Tara has offered to share some “warm” post-firing surface finishing techniques, including encaustic wax methods. This post-firing technique can be used to enhance ceramic surfaces with additional color and texture.  

Tara Sartorius

 

We are particularly pleased to have Nancy Selvin as our guest artist. Nancy has been making work and participating in the international ceramic community for 50 years.  She says: “My role in this residency is to mix it up and provide a little craziness for all to enjoy! Poetry, text, color, imagination: it all fits.”

Participating artists are encouraged to bring a few bisque-fired pieces for the first soda firing that will take place soon after we arrive at Watershed. These early results will inform further experiments. To facilitate sharing, we’ll create a digital record of our discoveries by photographing processes and results along with notes about recipes and techniques. A compendium will be consolidated in a PDF that participants may download at home.

If you are also interested in making new creative connections with others while exploring soda firing, color, and new surface treatments, please join the fun in August!

Register today to join this dynamic group of artists!

Autumn Events on Campus

The Watershed kiln pad and studio bustle with activity throughout the early fall. Seven artists took part in the month-long fall residency, spending their days and nights working on independent projects. The uninterrupted time for inquiry and reflection lead to a wide range of work in the studio.

In mid-September Lydia Johnson led a workshop on surface development that drew artists from across New England, as well as Canada and Israel.  Lydia shared her unique process of using colored clay, colored slips, and stencils to create patterned ceramic tableware. Through a series of demonstrations and creative exercises, students learned how to make printed, hand built forms using colored clay.

The atmospheric kilns saw consistent use by groups of regional artists. In late September, artist Tim Christensen organized group firings of the wood and gas kilns. Participating artists un-bricked the doors and sold work hot off the shelves during Maine Craft Weekend on October 5 & 6. Visitors perused and purchased work on the kiln pad and visited Watershed’s new gallery during the inaugural exhibition.

Salad Days: Still Green After 25 Years

Former Watershed Director Lynn Thompson (center) shares a laugh with husband Mike Thompson (left), and Watershed Co-Founder Lynn Duryea (right) during an evening with Salad Days Artist alumni.

 

Never underestimate the creative potential of a job interview. In 1995, Watershed Co-Founder Chris Gustin interviewed Lynn Thompson (then located in Tennessee) for the organization’s executive director position. Understanding that fundraising would be an important part of the job, Thompson considered ideas that might impress Gustin. “I had it in my mind that gardening and farming were important in Maine, so it seemed logical to combine food and ceramics,” recalls Thompson. And, as a former English teacher, it was only natural to draw on words from Shakespeare for inspiration.  “My salad days, when I was green in judgment” — from Antony and Cleopatra — evokes thoughts of fresh, new endeavors and seemed a well-suited title for an event that celebrates garden bounties and ceramic plates inspired by Watershed’s pastoral surroundings.

When Thompson got the job and relocated to Maine, she decided to launch the first Salad Days picnic in August when Watershed’s board would be meeting on campus. She asked a young artist in the first residency session of the season, Yoshiro Okuma (“Yaz”), to stay through the summer and make 100 plates. Guests would choose a plate and enjoy a picnic lunch for $10 per person. Board members, staff, and resident artists were also asked to contribute to a pottery sale. The goal was to raise $1,000; but this first Salad Days raised $5,000!

Guests select plates by Dehmie Dehmlow during 2019 Salad Days.

 

Over the years, the event slowly grew in size. In its fifth year, Delta Airlines’ flight magazine ran a story about the event and Watershed was overrun with picnickers. Five hundred people showed up to claim 400 plates and this new participant level set the bar for years to come.

Today, Salad Days has become the organization’s most successful community fundraiser. Watershed annually welcomes more than 600 people to the event. Each Salad Days artist-in-residence is selected by a jury to make 550+ plates for the celebration.

During Salad Days 2019, reimagined plates made by past Salad Days Artists were on display beside their original Salad Days plates.

 

To mark the 25th annual Salad Days on July 13, 2019, Watershed invited the Salad Days Artist alumni to return to campus. Each artist was asked to make five limited edition “reimagined” plates in honor of this milestone. Eighteen of the artists accepted the reimagined plate challenge. The new plates were featured alongside the original plates in a special exhibition and sale during the 25th Salad Days event. Additionally, twelve past Salad Days Artist alums returned to Watershed for the weekend. They enjoyed a reunion with Lynn Thompson, sharing stories and reflections about the impact of the Salad Days residency on their work and careers.

Salad Days Artist alumni celebrated a Watershed homecoming this July. Top row: Adam Paulek, Kari Woolsey, Jessica Brandl, Liz Hafey, Meredith Host, Kurt Anderson, Christina Bendo, Lynn Duryea, Reeder Fahnestock, Fran Rudoff, Lynn Thompson, Mike Thompson. Bottom row: Dehmie Dehmlow, Seth Payne, Patrick Coughlin, Adero Willard, Stuart Gair, Kari Radasch, Malcolm Mobutu Smith

2019 Summer Residency in Pictures

The summer humidity has made way for crisp fall air as the last of our 2019 summer staff pack their cars and depart.  We feel privileged to have spent the summer in the company of so many amazing artists and makers who took part in the 2019 summer residency.  Please enjoy a few photos from each of the summer sessions.

Session I: Ephemerality in Clay

Session II: How Low Can You Go: Low Fire Love

Session III: Ceramic Sculpture Collective

Session IV: Spirit of the Absurd

Session V: The New Ancient

2019 Salad Days

Thank you to everyone who made 2019 Salad Days such a special occasion at Watershed! This community event began as a small picnic and has grown to have an attendance of nearly 600 people. Celebrating the 25th Salad Days with the support of guests and visitors from near and far felt very special to us. We hope you enjoyed a day of delicious food and stellar ceramic work made by Watershed’s large and varied artistic community. Below are a selection images to commemorate our day together. Thank you again for your support!

Salad Days Artist Dehmie Dehmlow made over 550 plates to choose from.

Hats were essential apparel on the sunny Salad Days grounds!

Watershed Board President Joyce Cohen with Abbey Chase

Past Salad Days Artist Meredith Host gives a demo.

Friends celebrated with their new ceramic wares.

Watershed staff and board members at work in the stein sale tent.

Dehmie Dehmlow with her trusted companion, Hadlee, and one of her plates.

Watershed co-Founder Chris Gustin leads a campus tour.

Guests of all ages celebrated under the tents!

Mouth-watering choices from Salad Days buffet.

Another happy guest with his new plate.

Each handmade plate had its own look and feel.

Most salads are made in the Watershed kitchen while others are generously donated by area restaurants.

New plates made by past Salad Days Artists

 

Session II: How Low Can You Go: Low Fire Love

In this guest post, 2019 Residency Session Co-Organizer Chanda Glendinning shares plans and ideas for the second session of the summer (June 16-28) focused on low-fire work. There is room for any artist interested in the session to join. Register now to reserve your spot or apply for a scholarship or work-exchange. Registrations are accepted on a rolling basis.  Applications for financial support are due February 15. 

Amanda Dobbratz

Well, hello, all of you bright, shiny, lovely people! Chanda here – I can’t tell you how happy I am to be returning to Watershed this summer, and joining forces with my co-host Amanda Dobbratz for Session 2: How Low Can You Go: Low Fire Love. I am so excited to have two whole weeks to immerse myself in the creative magic of Watershed and work and play and collaborate with the wonderful group of artists who are coming together for this session. I am foreseeing an explosion of color and red clay in the studios during our residency.

As I took another look at the images from our invited artists, and peeked into their studios via Instagram to see the freshest work still on their tables, the word “extravaganza” popped into my mind. From the goopy colorful glazes of Chris Drobnock and the narrative drawings of Lynne Hobaica, to the slip cast and decal-ed abundance of Shenny Cruces, the sgraffitto-ed jackrabbits and skulls of Jamie Adams and the subtle layered slips and glazes of Amy Evans to Margaret Haden’s multiple techniques that contrast decal & luster work with hand drawn informal lines, our invited artists are a varied and interesting bunch! I can’t wait to see old friends and make many new ones as we work side by side in the studio together.

Margaret Haden

 

We encourage all participants to bring some bisque ware. Not that we won’t have our hands deep in fresh clay as soon as we possibly can, but I know from experience how fast two weeks can fly by, and we want everyone to have the opportunity to explore and share and over-indulge in all of the unpredictable delight of salt and soda at low fire temperatures. I’ve had some really interesting results from my kilns at temperatures as low as cone 04 with a variety of surfaces – bare clay, underglaze, slips, glaze. If everything goes according to plan we’re hoping to squeeze three rounds of kilns in, so there will be a bit of room for trial & error, and something for everyone.

Amy Evans

I am anticipating those long lovely studio days – easy banter wafting through the air, collaborative work being passed from one person to the next, gathering around a table for a quick little demo. I see art, and life, and stories shared after dinner as informal slide talks, before heading back down the path for just a few more minutes of studio time. I foresee moonlit walks back to our beds, the crunch of gravel under our feet, and sunlit afternoon dips in Peter’s Pond once the kilns are loaded. I am impatiently counting the days until June, and looking forward to seeing what the synergy of this group will bring forth from our time at the ‘Shed. Let’s experiment together and see just how extravagant and “low” we can go!

Register today to join this dynamic group of artists for some low-fire bonding!

Ephemerality in Clay: Summer Session I Preview

In this guest post, Kate Roberts shares the inspiration and ideas that led her to organize 2019 Summer Residency Session I: Ephemerality in Clay. Additional participating artists include Alida van Almelo, Peter Barbor, Magdolene Dykstra, Rachel Eng, David Katz & Erna Skuladottir. Space in the session is available for those interested in joining the group from June 2-14. Learn more and register for this session.

Upon completing graduate school in 2015, I prepared myself for the nomadic lifestyle I was about to embark on.  Not only was storage becoming almost non-existent but the realities of a life without a kiln felt like an imminent possibility.  I knew my practice might need to change to accommodate these new circumstances. In graduate school, I had experimented with creating work with unfired clay.  In this state, I was able to create pieces that exuded a fragility thematically relevant within my work. For the past four years, my work has almost exclusively been dedicated to understanding the limits of clay in its many stages from dust, to wet slip, to unfired.  It has given me the freedom to explore scale and place. My dream no longer was a successful kiln firing but the ability to show up at a location with my toolbox of materials and create in the moment.

Roberts in the studio

Kate Roberts

In recent years, there has been an increasing number of artists who are exploring raw clay through its inherent physical qualities, its range of transformation, its connection to site, and its ability to discuss time in its relation to people, circumstance, and geography.  For the Watershed Session Ephemerality in Clay, I have invited a range of artists who work with raw clay for different reasons.  Some were excited by the freedom to experiment, a few were interested by its ability to grow their work in scale, while others navigated to it out of necessity due to lack of access to or funding for kilns or work space.  I believe the diverse range of approaches will allow all artists present to find commonalities and possible collaborations on site or in the future.

Erna Skúladóttir, Inundation 2

 

The geography of Watershed makes it the perfect site for this session.  We will have the ability to not just work indoors but outside where raw clay has the chance to be informed but also challenged by the surrounding nature and elements.  In addition to exploring investigations in raw clay both personally and collaboratively, all artists attending, before dinner each evening, may present an informal slide talk or discussion of their work.  I foresee these discussions covering the strengths and challenges professionally in working in a temporal way. We each will have the opportunity to share techniques, ask questions and learn from each other.  I’m most interested in learning others’ ways of navigating discussions of shipping and finding funding for installation. Through sharing these diverse experiences and knowledge we can create a greater dialogue and visibility to composing in this alternative way.

Alida van Alemlo

 

I can’t wait for June to meet, or in some cases meet again, artists that have or will inspire me.  And also, the time this session will afford me to further explore the vast possibilities of this material that—in the end—is just dirt!  

Any artist who is comfortable working independently in a clay studio may join this residency session. While the focus is on ephemeral work in clay, participants are also welcome to fire work in Watershed’s kilns. Sign up for the session here. For those interested in participating with the support of scholarships or work-exchanges, please apply here. Financial assistance applications are due February 15.