Meet the Man Behind the Plates

Get to know Jeremiah Ibarra, Watershed’s 2024 Salad Days Artist-in-Residence, as he talks about craft, cartoons, and cultivating opportunities for future generations of artists.


Jeremiah Ibarra is from Texas, but, despite his assertions that he hasn’t traveled much, he’s  worked all over the U.S. He traces his start in clay back to his hometown, San Angelo, where he grew up watching and participating in a biennial ceramics competition. After receiving an MFA from Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi, Ibarra participated in residencies in Indiana, Pennsylvania, and beyond. It is to Watershed’s great delight that he ended up in Newcastle, Maine for the better part of a year. 

During his seven-month stay, Ibarra tackled long nights and weathered Maine’s infamous winter storms. The culmination of his hard work is represented by the nearly 500 plates he meticulously crafted for this year’s Salad Days.

Design & Process

Looking at Ibarra’s plates, one would have to assume he’s a dog fanatic. His designs feature hundreds of wagging tails, floppy ears, and furry paws, each one unique and carefully sketched onto pastel backgrounds. But it wasn’t canine-craziness that drove this decision. “I’m not obsessed with dogs or animals or anything like that,” says Ibarra. “I was trying to find something that I wouldn’t mind drawing a lot of. I needed something with variety so that it wouldn’t feel like it was becoming too stagnant for myself.” Ibarra also notes that he wanted to appeal to a large audience with his plates, and “dogs are one of those things that most people like.”

This residency provided Ibarra with the opportunity to develop ideas into material objects and push the boundaries of his practice. In particular, he focused on exploring the relationship between illustration, familiarity, and nostalgia. If you look closely, you’ll find a handful of cartoon canines mixed in with his realistic breeds. “This way of drawing is something that’s been on my mind for a while,” says Ibarra. “This residency with Watershed was an opportunity to figure out and hone in on this skill and this process. That’s been the main driving force.” Ibarra’s stay at Watershed presented him with space and time for experimentation and play. 

“This way of drawing is something that’s been on my mind for a while,” says Ibarra. “This residency with Watershed was an opportunity to figure out and hone in on this skill and this process. That’s been the main driving force.”

To the next Salad Days Artist-in-Residence, Ibarra emphasized the importance of planning ahead when undertaking such an exciting, lengthy project. He also really encourages his successor to engage with local Mainers. “Not just for the sake of keeping your sanity, but there’s a really great community here. I think my younger self would be fine staying in the studio alone all the time, but as I’ve gotten older I feel that community-building is really more of what it’s about.” 


Having participated in multiple residency programs, Ibarra is no stranger to the bittersweet mix of emotions that comes with a goodbye. He notes that he’ll miss the boundless access to a space as large and unique as Watershed’s Windgate Studio. 

Ibarra was very deliberate in how his work would interact with the tradition of displaying illustrated, commemorative plates. “A lot of those objects aren’t meant to be used—they end up sitting on a cabinet or a shelf,” says Ibarra. “I’ve tried my best to make sure that these plates are functional. It’s rewarding whenever I can see my work being used and holding up over time. The goal is to not only have these plates live in the legacy of the artists who have done this before me, but also have them do what they’re meant to do: help these programs grow at Watershed.” He hopes that everyone who purchases one of his plates at Salad Days finds joy, practicality, and connection in his designs. 

“The goal is to not only have these plates live in the legacy of the artists who have done this before me, but also have them do what they’re meant to do: help these programs grow at Watershed.”

When asked for his final reflections, Ibarra says: “This time that I’ve had here has been really special. I’m excited to see how Watershed grows in the coming years. There’s a lot of big changes happening, and I’m proud to be a part of it.”

Watershed Welcomes New Executive Director in June

David S. East

EDGECOMB – The Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts Board of Trustees is pleased to announce that David S. East will be joining the organization as its new Executive Director in June 2024. East comes to Watershed with over 20 years experience as a ceramic artist and educator, 15 of which, in a leadership role. East’s work includes an arts practice, education, curatorial work and writing as well as a long and varied involvement with Watershed. 

Currently, serving as the Faculty Advisor of Ceramics at the Maryland Institute College of Art, David S. East has taught and been a visiting artist at numerous locations including University of Missouri-Columbia, Alfred University, Kansas City Art Institute, and the Tainan National College of Art, Taiwan. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally including in the GICBiennale Incheon, Korea, solo exhibitions at the Jane Hartsook Gallery, Greenwich House Pottery, NY, NY, Schulman Project, Baltimore, MD and many others. He has received numerous awards including, Individual Artist Awards from the Maryland State Arts Council, the Lighton Foundation, and the McKnight Foundation.

On behalf of the Watershed Board of Trustees, Lynn Duryea, Watershed Founding Trustee expressed, “We are thrilled to have David S. East step into the role of Watershed’s Executive Director. David brings years of administrative and educational experience and a deep understanding of the field of ceramics. He has first-hand knowledge of Watershed, as past staff member, resident artist and an Advisor to the Watershed board. David is the ideal person to help guide our mission and programming as we embark on our next chapter with expanded facilities.”

David S. East is engaged in a thoughtful onboarding process in collaboration with Sadie Bliss, Watershed’s Interim Executive Director. The two dedicated and experienced leaders will work side-by-side for six weeks in Summer 2024 to ensure a smooth leadership transition. During 2024, Watershed leadership, staff and board look forward to an inspiring summer residency season, the annual Salad Days event also serving as a celebration of Watershed’s new Commons building, the fall residency partnership with the Color Network, many workshops and kiln firings. The campus transformation led by past Executive Director Fran Rudoff has paved the way for year-round programming, which Watershed is poised to bring to life; expanding and offering more time and more space to artists working in clay.

David has a long history with Watershed; he has attended three residencies, served as an advisor to the board 2014 – 2017, has worked in various service functions over the years and was the cook and co-residence manager in 1995. As he prepares to step into his next role of Executive Director, David shares, “Watershed is singular amongst ceramic arts and residencies centers. Its focus, on the potential of dialogue, on community, and on the singular impact of time and space and its role in expanding creativity is profound. I am humbled and so excited by the opportunity to serve Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts. Watershed has changed and enriched the lives of so many, including my own, and I am thrilled to carry this work forward.”

David will join Watershed as Director in June. He, with his wife Catherine, a textile designer and artist, and son, Ronan will make the move to Maine from New York City this summer.

NEA Grant Press Release with The Color Network

TCN group 2022


Press Release: for immediate release
Contact: Sadie Bliss, Interim Executive Director,
Watershed Center for the  Ceramic Arts
Office: (207) 882-6075 | 103 Cochran Road, Edgecomb, ME 04556

National Endowment for the Arts Grant Supports Partnership Between Watershed Ceramics & The Color Network

EDGECOMB – This September, twelve artist participants from The Color Network’s mentorship program will gather in person for a two-and-a-half-week residency at Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts’ newly renovated 54-acre campus in Edgecomb, Maine. Watershed and The Color Network (TCN) are partnering for a third time to host an artist residency focused on mentor-mentee relationship building among artists of color who work in clay.  The session will be funded in part by a $35,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

The Color Network  supports and advances ceramic artists of color by creating opportunities for dialogue, networking, professional development and provides visibility and resources. A significant facet of their work focuses on building international mentorship networks among experienced and emerging ceramists. With TCN’s mentors and mentees scattered geographically, most of their connections take place online. Watershed’s facilities and residency structure offer a natural fit for TCN to bring mentorship program participants together in person . Watershed’s residencies, campus and setting foster community building and creative practice, while providing artists with space and freedom to use their time together as they choose.

“I couldn’t have imagined the long lasting positive impact this residency would have on my work and relationships with the mentors and mentees” shared George Rodriguez, a 2022 Watershed resident and TCN co-organizer. “Everyone brought in their unique perspective, skills, and lived experiences to the studio.  We collaborated, supported each other in communal kiln firings and discussed life stories over meals. This residency was strong foundational support and care for one another. “

In summer 2021, with support from the NEA,  eleven TCN members gathered at Watershed for the group’s inaugural mentorship residency, which also marked the opening of Watershed’s state-of-the-art Windgate Studio. The TCN residency program took place again in summer 2022 with NEA support and the 2024 program will build on the first two residencies, increasing the length and shifting from an invitational process to a juried process. 

Prior to gathering at Watershed,  the mentor-mentee pairs have established connections with one another online, but often meet for the first time in-person at Watershed.  The selected group of twelve has never gathered together until they arrive on campus.  During their time together, artists keep  long hours in the studio while making strides in their work. TCN residents share that their conversations and collaborations engender a comfortable ease that enlivens their creative practices and connections, as described by April D. Felipe, a TCN co-founder and Watershed 2021 resident.

“The  residency provided us with the gift of time, enabling us to not only learn from our mentors but also to engage with our mentees, gaining insight into the minds of upcoming artists in our field. Access to this focused time and space allowed us to move beyond the superficial, fostering deep relationships and learning from each other as both artists and individuals.  It’s such a gift to be able to step outside of your everyday world and embrace this microcosm of wonderful artists.“

Like many art centers, Watershed’s programs are funded through a mix of donor support, grants, and direct fees paid by participants. The Grants for Arts Projects (GAP) award from the National Endowment for the Arts will cover the cost of every TCN artist’s residency, removing a significant financial barrier to participation. 

“It’s an honor and a privilege to receive National Endowment for the Arts funding for this program for a third time and it shows the importance of mentorship in the craft field, as well as, mentor-mentee relationships between artists with shared identities. Our ongoing partnership and work with TCN deepens and expands with each year in no small part thanks to the NEA and we are grateful for this critical funding.” – Sadie Bliss, Watershed Interim Executive Director.

“The residency at Watershed organized in partnership with The Color Network was a unique opportunity to develop relationships with like-minded artists at all stages of their careers. Having two weeks of time in a focused, pastoral environment – withdrawn from the pressures of regular life – provided the freedom to foster burgeoning ideas and plant new ones. Artists who are just starting out on their journey get irreplaceable time to glean wisdom from elders in our field.” -Magdolene Dykstra, a TCN co-organizer and 2022 Watershed resident.

Artists are encouraged to subscribe to TCN’s and Watershed’s email newsletters to receive notification when the residency application is released this spring.  More information on The Color Network can be found at and information on Watershed’s residency, workshop, and educational programs is available at

NEA GAP awards reach communities in all parts of the country, large and small, from diverse cultural and economic backgrounds. In 2024, there are 1,288 organizations recommended to receive grants totaling more than $32 million. 

National Endowment for the Arts Chair Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD said, “The NEA is pleased to announce these grants, all of which strengthen our nation’s arts sector in different ways. Whether it’s the creation of new art, opportunities for the public to participate and engage in the arts, or work to better understand the impact of the arts, these grants contribute to the well-being of individuals and communities, help meet the challenges of our time, and build towards a future in which all people can lead artful lives and reach their full potential.”

2024 Board Changes

As we begin a new year, Watershed’s Board is pleased to welcome two new trustees into the fold as we bid a grateful farewell to three board members who have provided their talents, guidance and insights over many years. 

New Trustee Janna Longacre brings decades of experience as an artist and educator to the Board. Janna uses clay, along with manufactured and found materials, to create sculptures and installations that shift the viewer’s perception through abstract narratives. For 47 years, Jana has taught at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, where she developed courses that provide opportunities for students to study in Cuba, Vietnam, and Brazil. Her most recent course, Objects that Change Lives, addresses problems and solutions related to food, water, sustainability, health, and shelter. 

Janna earned a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design and an MFA from the University of Michigan. She has exhibited nationally and has received funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Artist Foundation. Her work has been published in Art in America, American Ceramics, Sign of the Times, New York Times, and Boston Globe

Incoming Trustee John Mullaney is a retired philanthropy and nonprofit executive who has spent most of his professional career helping diverse organizations craft, articulate, and implement their missions. In his capacity as director of a private foundation, he guided a variety of nonprofits, foundations, and government agencies to address complex policy issues. Prior to his 21 years in philanthropy, John held a variety of roles at the Institute for International Development and the Latin American Scholarship Program of American Universities at Harvard University. He has had the honor of working for local and state-wide constituents while serving on numerous boards. 

John holds an MA from Georgetown University and completed his undergraduate education at Boston College. His ceramics credentials consist of one adult education course at Merrymeeting Adult Education and YouTube University. He looks forward to the day he succeeds in throwing a cup on a wheel. He remains an ardent fan of those who can and is honored to be in a position to help artists succeed.

Trustees who completed their terms of service at the end of 2023 include Beth Ann Gerstein, John Smith, and Sharon Townshend. John joined the board in 2022 upon moving to Maine’s midcoast, bringing valuable insights from his previous work as Director of the RISD museum. Beth Ann and Sharon have each served on the Watershed Board for decades, stewarding the organization through numerous changes and developments. Beth Ann joined Watershed’s advisory board in 2001, became a trustee in 2003, and served as Secretary and subsequently Vice President. She is currently Executive Director of the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona, CA. Sharon first joined the Watershed Board in 1997 and has held a variety of positions during her tenure, including Secretary, Vice President, and Co-President. She maintains an active studio practice and will continue her board work with TEMPOart in Portland, ME. We are so grateful for Sharon and Beth Ann’s long-standing leadership, commitment, and vision that has shaped Watershed’s present and future! 

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

Watershed Welcomes Sadie Bliss as Interim Executive Director

Watershed’s Board of Trustees is delighted to announce that Sadie Bliss has stepped into the role of Interim Executive Director. In this capacity, Sadie will support ongoing programming, operations, and fundraising through the transition to a new permanent executive director in 2024. 

Sadie is a long-time Watershed peer, supporter, and former Salad Days coordinator (back when the event was held in the front yard of Thompson Hall!). A seasoned leader, she served as Executive Director of the Maine Crafts Association (MCA) for over ten years, leaving that role in 2022. She brings strong arts administration experience and a deep dedication and connection to Maine, craft artists, and the organizations serving our thriving creative communities. 

“I am excited to join Watershed at this pivotal time and am thrilled to support an organization I’ve long known and admired for their mission and vision,” shared Sadie. “As I get to know the staff, board, beautiful campus, and incredible facilities, I look forward to bringing programs and events to life between now and next summer. 

I hope you will join me in contributing to Watershed’s growth and success by making a donation to our annual appeal, attending Salad Days (7/13/24), or applying for a residency – it will be incredible to see all of you here!”

As an experienced executive-level arts administrator, Bliss has dedicated her career to nurturing mission driven and fiscally thriving organizations. She is committed to empowering staff; contributing to diverse, equitable, inclusive, and welcoming systems and cultures; and creating new opportunities for connection and growth.

Sadie grew up in rural New Hampshire – the daughter of a self-employed ceramic artist. She earned a Masters Degree in Arts Administration from Boston University and became the Executive Director of MCA in 2012 after working for the organization since 2009. Prior to her time at MCA , Sadie served as Director of artSTRAND gallery in Provincetown, MA and managed CraftBoston, the Society of Arts and Crafts’ annual contemporary craft show.

Additionally, Sadie co-founded and directed Co.7, a gallery, studio, and event space in Portland, Oregon. She has worked with the Maine Arts Commission, The Mayor of Boston’s Office of Arts,  and The Boston Center for the Arts, facilitating public art programming and conducting market research. While in Boston, Sadie lived and worked as a studio artist at The Distillery, where she organized open studio events, and collaborated with Rope-a-Dope poetry and printmaking press.

When she isn’t at Watershed, Sadie can be found skiing and snowboarding, at an ocean or lakeside beach, or enjoying the arts, community, and restaurants in Portland with her husband Loc and two children, Marvin and Juno.

2023 Summer Residency Recap

“Attending a residency at Watershed created a truly once in a lifetime experience for me. I came to better understand my own practice and created a network with so many truly inspiring artists. I was able to talk to them about my future goals and ideas and learn from them. It was truly incredible.”

-Jillian Blackwell, 2023 Summer Resident Artist


As Maine’s maple and oak leaves begin to show off their fiery fall hues, we find ourselves looking back on a most memorable residency season. Eighty-three artists joined us from around the country and world, bringing with them fresh ideas and perspectives. We feel so grateful for the creative energy and spirit they brought to our community during their brief time on campus. The following photos and synopses capture moments from each of our remarkable 2023 sessions.

Clay in the Expanded Field: May 22-June 2

We kicked off the ‘23 residency season with the wonderful Clay in the Expanded Field cohort. Artists brought their cross-disciplinary experiences with installation, painting, performance, fiber, and temporal work to bear in a rich exchange that explored clay’s role contemporary art-making. The group bonded instantaneously and spent their session experimenting with other materials in conjunction with clay, exploring different firing techniques, and finding inspiration in Maine’s natural environment.

Organized by Emily Bayless and Britny Wainwright, participating artists in the session included Jillian Blackwell, Clare Burson, Ashley Campbell, Brandi Lee Cooper, Katie Coughlin, Meredith Habermann, Jillian McEvoy, Claudia Morales, Kelly O’Briant, Ana Popescu, Taylor Shantz, Mingxuan Tan, Kirstin Willders, Renqian Yang, and Jax Yao.

Building Resilience: June 5-16

This residency provided an opportunity for participants to reimagine environmental resilience in their communities and creative practices. The artists worked alongside one another while discussing ways to develop more sustainable relationships with the limited natural resources needed to make their work.

On the first day, nearly half the group found they were reading the same book: Braiding Sweetgrass. Their lively discussions and exchanges began in earnest and continued as they explored personal and collaborative projects while sharing challenges and ideas. The group also ventured offsite to dig wild clay and even processed some samples from Watershed’s back yard.

These fabulous makers also teamed up with us to create delectable dinners in the Watershed kitchen when our cooking staff was in flux – a big shout out to Elysa Rose-Coster for taking the lead on meals!

Organized by Holly Hanessian and Anna Metcalfe the session cohort included Julia Galloway, Tsehai Johnson, Rachael Marne Jones, Bradley Klem, Geno Luketic, Kasia Zurek-Doule, Elysa Rose-Coster, Sin-ying Ho, Anna Troszkiewicz, Jen Roos, Deborah Reichard, Molly Haynes, Charlotte Middleton, and Rose Robinson.

Embracing Change: June 19-30

For many of us, the past several years have been marked by considerable uncertainty due to political, cultural, environmental, and social challenges, as well as personal transitions. This session offered space to explore how creative practice is influenced by periods of significant change. The artists spent a fruitful week together in the studio but their second week was cut short due to a COVID outbreak. True to the session theme, participating artists graciously rolled with this unforeseen challenge. We hope to reconnect with them again under more favorable conditions! 

Organized by Frank Pitcher and JoAnn Schnabel the session included participating artists Joe Bova, Linda Casbon, Christine Caswell, David East, Michael Foerster, Andrea Kliffmiller, Jim Lawton, Mary Lynagh, Nancy Selvin, Jane Shellenbarger, Holly Walker, Stephen Robison, Knaide Rosenberg, Reese Seigfried, and Jason Starin.

Research & Practice: July 24-August 4

During this session, artists divided their time between sharing ways they approach the investigations that inform their creative practices and making work alongside one another in the studio. Through whole group discussions and readings, small group conversations, and an informal staging of finished work in the Barkan Gallery, this cohort formed strong bonds and took a holistic approach to exploring their practices.

Organized by Bridget Fairbank, this session’s participating artists included Anne Adams, Amanda Bury, Katie Chin, Rachel de Condé, Lilian Finckel, Neil Forrest, Jennifer Hansen Gard, Danielle Hawk, Adriana Lemus, Samara Yandell, Amélie Proulx, Lindsay Rogers, Andrew Tieman, Alana Wilson, and Alecia Dawn Young.

Collectivity: August 19-30

Our final 2023 summer residency session facilitated opportunities to form creative community during a non-stop two weeks on campus. Seventeen very prolific resident artists made the most of their time in the studio, with folks working at all hours of the day and night. Outside the studio, they fired salt kilns, dug and processed local clay, pit fired work, staged a ‘Pottery Throw Down’ competition, held a karaoke night, and danced late into the evening. Their time together culminated with a spectacular potluck dinner featuring collaborative dishes inspired by the artists’ cultures of origin. The menu included challah, carne asada, gourmet nachos, saffron ice cream and many other sweet and savory treats.

Session guest artists Armando Minjárez, Michelle Im & Raheleh Filsoofi were joined by Shay Gerassy, Frances Iadarola, Alyson Brandes, Mackenzie Pikaart, Lisa Larson-Walker, Jenny Ibsen, Sahar Tarighi, Wendy Eggerman, Abril Robbins, Vani Aguilar, Kiran Joan, Sun Park, Maggie Jones, and Zelda Mayer.

We’re grateful for the opportunity to connect with every artist who helped shape the 2023 residency season. Plans for next year’s residencies are underway with more details coming this fall. Sign up for Watershed’s e-newsletter to receive the 2024 session announcement.

Reflections from Ali Saunders


Artist Ali Saunders spent seven months at Watershed creating plates for 2023 Salad Days. Here she shares the inspirations for her designs and reflects on the making process.

I grew up in a home filled with textiles and handmade quilts sewn by my mother and grandmother. As two extremely active makers, their practices influenced my work ethic, aesthetics, and interests. The designs for my Salad Days plates are inspired by their love of pattern and color.

During the process of making 475 plates at Watershed, I tried to simplify the project by breaking it into manageable stages. At first I felt daunted by the sheer quantity of plates I needed to make but once I focused on taking it day by day, my worries calmed. 

The residency really provided an opportunity to experiment and respond to ‘what if’ questions that arose over the course of seven months. This experimentation affected how I approached my work and influenced how I will go forward with new projects. While the plate making process is accompanied by considerable solitude, collaborations with Watershed’s Studio Manager Reeder Fahnestock and Studio Coordinator August Lantz broke up the monotony as we worked together to develop manageable systems. Early on we struggled with the glaze formulation and it took many tests and trials to find a recipe that worked. Once the glazing finally came together, my work moved exponentially faster. 

The project became an opportunity to create new systems and designs as my ideas evolved. I’ve always been drawn to bright color in ceramic work and admire artists like Adero Willard (former Salad Days Artist) and Holly Walker (former Watershed Executive Director). While the saturated colors you see in the finished plates have been central to my work for some time, the way I worked with form, color, and pattern really shifted over the course of the residency. Salad Days guests will notice that plates made in the early months of my time here look quite different from ones made toward the end! 

Spending mid-September through mid-April at Watershed really created an opportunity for me to slow down. Maine’s winter brings a level of peace that I truly enjoyed. We made jokes about The Shining and there were a few snow storms that knocked out power, but I found overwintering on campus to be a positive experience overall. The quiet truly enabled me to focus without any distractions. 

Once I completed the plates in early April, seeing them all stacked up was very powerful. On some level, I found it hard to believe that I made all that work! I hope the plates – with their lively colors and patterns – draw people in and invite them to pause in the midst of their busy lives to enjoy a moment with their handmade piece.


During many hours of experimentation and tinkering, Ali perfected her plate designs and surface treatments. Using a mix of analog and digital technology, she designed organic shapes and patterns via a digital illustration program and created thousands of laser cut templates in newsprint. She layered these delicate stencils and brushed colorful slips over them to create complex tessellations combined in myriad ways on the plates’ surfaces.

Purchase your plate ticket today and choose your favorite Ali Saunders plate on July 8th at Salad Days!

Embracing Change: 2023 Summer Residency Preview

In this guest post, 2023 Summer Residency session co-organizers Frank Pitcher & JoAnn Schnabel share their inspiration and ideas for Session III: Embracing Change. Additional artists anchoring the session include Joe Bova, Linda Casbon, David East, Jim Lawton, Jane Shellenbarger & Holly Walker. Space in the session is available for artists interested in joining the group at Watershed from June 19 to 30. Learn more and apply to join this session.

Dark brown ceramic sculpture with terracotta embellishment

JoAnn Schnabel


I’m not sure who told me as a child that the only constant in life was change, but it certainly is true. During our Watershed session, we will embrace how our lives have recently transformed – socially, politically, and physically – and how we can embrace those changes in our studio practice. With this diverse group of sculptors and potters, collaborations will take shape organically as we find our way together in the studio. The group will also have opportunities to discover shared topics related to personal and collective changes that warrant discussion. Informal talks about work in progress, affectionately called “pot on the spot”, will bring new perspectives and insights to our own work.

We are excited to anchor the session with artists David East, Jane Shellenbarger, Jim Lawton, Holly Walker, Joe Bova, and Linda Casbon. During the first few days at Watershed, all participating artists will decide how we will spend our time together, what kilns we want to fire, and how much or how little each artist wants to collaborate in the studio. Play, humor, and experimentation will be embedded in all our activities.

Man in green shirt prepares work outside a kiln.

Frank Pitcher


We (Frank and JoAnn) met in 1991 at the first woodfire conference at the University of Iowa and quickly realized our many shared connections. We both worked at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, had connections to Iowa, and later served on the Watershed Board of Trustees. We have remained close friends ever since and often talk about the compromises we must make in our own studios to accommodate physical changes as we age.

JoAnn is Professor Emeritus at the University of Northern Iowa with an MFA from Louisiana State University. Frank is a studio potter in Deer Isle, Maine where he has recently completed building his second large Naborigama wood kiln. He holds an MFA from the University of Iowa.

Learn more & apply to join Embracing Change. 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.

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.

Clay in the Expanded Field: 2023 Summer Residency Session Preview

In this guest post, 2023 Summer Residency session co-organizers Emily Bayless and Britny Wainwright share their inspiration and ideas for Summer Residency Session I: Clay in the Expanded Field. Additional artists anchoring the session include Katie Coughlin, Brandi Lee Cooper, Meredith Habermann & Kelly O’Briant. Space in the session is available for artists interested in joining the group at Watershed from May 22 to June 2. Learn more and apply to join this session.

Artwork with two ceramic vessels and colorful printed and quilted textile behind it.

‘Live-in Comrades’ by Britny Wainwright


Emily: Britny and I met due to the collaborative nature of the ceramics field. Collaboration is something each of us naturally gravitate toward. So far – mainly due to geographic circumstances – we have worked together exclusively via digital formats, and, in my opinion, enjoy a harmonious and mutually beneficial collaborative working relationship. I was immediately enchanted with Britny’s work and decided we must work together. Luckily, she was of the same mindset. 

Britny: It has been great collaborating with Emily, despite never being in the same room! I admire her commitment to ceramics and am excited by her latest experiments with fiber. I hope that this residency will create space for dialogue with all the participating artists about the expanding field of ceramics. Our overlapping interests in our studios will be complemented by other contemporary ceramic artists working with multiple materials. 

Artwork containing blue-green ceramic lattice piece atop a green woven textile.

‘Frenchie’ by Emily Bayless


Online art crushes: In the spirit of embracing virtual networking in this post-pandemic world, we connected with many, though not all, of the invited artists via the internet! In the age of [insert social network here], we all admire from afar. We welcome this opportunity at Watershed as a chance to reach out to those @artistsnames we wanted to make and learn with and assemble a group working in the spirit of the residency.

The theme of this session, Clay in the Expanded Field: Material as Metaphor, supports new ways of making, the revisiting of metaphors we use through material, and pushing the technical boundaries of clay while engaging in endless questioning as its life-long students. We look forward to coming to Watershed with a plan while being present enough with the material and the group to completely throw that plan out the window. We aim to connect with the clay community, experiment, and talk ceramics in the field of art while we sit in communion and appreciate that clay brings us all to our knees in prayer to the kiln gods.

Learn more & apply to join Clay in the Expanded Field. 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.