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.

Embodied Perception: 2023 Summer Residency Session Preview

In this guest post, 2023 Summer Residency session co-organizers Bonita Kline and Marily Perry share their inspiration and ideas for Summer Residency Session IV: Embodied Perception. Additional artists anchoring the session include Hana Balaban-Pommier, Victoria Loe Hicks, Jenny Peace & Stephanie Rosendorf. Space in the session is available for artists interested in joining the group at Watershed from July 3 to 14. Learn more and apply.

Marilyn Perry


Our session provides an opportunity to fully engage our multitude of senses in order to inspire our clay practices. We will intentionally connect with Watershed’s rich natural environment to expand our sensory awareness and bring this awareness to studio based and site-specific creations.

In our culture, many of us spend our days indoors tethered to devices. Our session together will flip this emphasis – decreasing screen time and increasing immersion in nature to spark conversation and enhance our sensory experience and well-being.

The idea for the residency emerged from online studio chats. We are located from coast to coast – Oregon to New York. Zoom studio visits and dialogues have sustained us during the pandemic. Bonita and Marilyn like to ask questions … which often leads to more questions! During discussions, Bonita expressed her lifetime curiosity with tactile sensations and exploring with her fingertips as she considered what emphasizing other senses could bring to her work. Marilyn spoke about her recent experiences of ‘the beyond’ and wondered about the influence of this sense in her ceramics. We both recognized that we were thinking about shifting our sensory awareness to inform our artistic practice. How wonderful it would be to expand this conversation with other artists!

Bonita Kline


Interest in forest bathing is growing in North America. The practice originated in Japan, where it is known as shinrin-yoku, which translates to ‘taking in the forest atmosphere’. This healthful activity provides an antidote to our culture’s tech demands and ocularcentrism. Forest bathing can be a guided experience or as simple as walking in the woods while consciously connecting with our surroundings. Watershed’s 54 acre campus ideally supports this endeavor.

We are delighted to be joined by artists Stephanie Rosendorf, Victoria Loe Hicks, Hana Balaban-Pommier, and Jenny Peace. Through their work, these artists all highlight core aspects of our human experience while also referencing our natural world. Each brings an eagerness and openness to explore during the residency. 

Jenny: ‘…to share the intention of letting multi-sensory perceptions inform forms is deeply compelling at this moment in my life.’

Victoria: ‘This residency, with the invitation to foreground direct sense experience in the making process, is both exciting and a bit scary. (Scary is good!) I’m jazzed by the challenge to make work that responds directly to a specific place and time rather than making work that emerges from a lifetime’s ruminations.’

Stephanie: ‘…the chance to work more loosely and open up to ceramic processes guided by sensorial exercises and experiences is a very different approach from the more detailed and outcome-focused work I normally make. I’m excited by the possibility.’

Hana: ‘…the opportunity to work more intuitively and let go of the intellectual constructs of the moment.’

Embodied Perception is about expanding our sensory experience in ways our bodies and beings are designed to do. Through forest bathing, exercises, readings, dialogue, and informal chats, we intend to dive into what embodied experiences tell us through our work. Please join us this July as we play, converse, create, and learn from each other.

Learn more & apply to join Embodied Perception. 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.

Watershed Welcomes New Executive Director

Edgecomb, ME – The Board of Trustees of Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts is pleased to announce its new Executive Director, Liz Seaton (pronoun flexible). A long-time civil rights leader and lifelong potter, Seaton moves from Washington, DC to Edgecomb, Maine to join the Watershed team starting on January 17, 2023. Liz takes the helm from Watershed’s outgoing Executive Director, Fran Rudoff, who steps down after ten years in the position.

“We are thrilled to bring Liz to Watershed,” says Bernie Toale, the organization’s Board President. “Their non-profit acumen and proven leadership will serve Watershed and the clay community well. Importantly, the Board and staff voted unanimously to select Liz as Watershed’s next Executive Director. Their passion for the arts combined with their executive talents; commitment to diversity equity and inclusion (DEI); and artist residency experience is exactly what Watershed needs for its promising future. We warmly welcome Liz to Maine and to the Watershed community.”

“What first drew me to Watershed was an interest in their incredible artist-centered residency programming in ceramics,” shares Seaton. “When the Board posted the Executive Director job, I immediately knew I wanted to be a part of this extraordinary organization. With foresight and vision, the Board, stakeholders, and staff strategically used the pandemic time to build wonderful new facilities that set the stage for a new chapter for the organization. Watershed’s prospects are bright, and that bodes well for artists working in clay and for the future of ceramic arts.”

Seaton brings a long history of translating vision into strategy and fruition. They come to Watershed directly from the National LGBTQ Task Force where they served as Policy Director, working for racial justice and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer liberation. On December 13th, 2022, Seaton joined elected officials and the broad civil rights coalition at the White House to celebrate President Biden signing into law the Respect for Marriage Act to protect the marriages of interracial and same-sex couples. Prior to the Task Force, Liz successfully advocated through their District of Columbia Department on Disability Services job for passage of a new law to protect people with disabilities. Seaton’s career highlights include working for the Human Rights Campaign as Legal Director/General Counsel and the National Center for Lesbian Rights as Director of Projects and Managing Attorney. Seaton’s legal career started at Whitman-Walker Clinic Legal Services, where they represented people living with HIV/AIDS, advocated for policy changes, and launched the Clinic’s amicus advocacy program with briefs to federal circuit courts and the U.S. Supreme Court. They have made a career of envisioning a more just future for vulnerable people, strategizing on how to translate that vision into policy, and successfully bringing that policy into reality.

Seaton personally holds an equally passionate interest in the arts and has been a potter for more than 40 years. Their creative practice spans several disciplines, which has led to their participation in artist residencies at Alaska’s Alderworks (non-fiction writing, Dyea/Skagway, 2021) and Chulitna Lodge (painting, Lake Clark, 2016), along with Minnesota’s Grand Marais Art Colony’s (GMAC) mentored artist program. Seaton has exhibited their work in six states, most recently in GMAC’s October 2022 Muse exhibit. Interested in one day running an artist residency program, in 2017 Seaton volunteered at the Artist Communities Alliance’s Emerging Residencies annual conference. Seaton once served on the Maryland State Arts Council’s (MSAC) panel to select county community arts programs for funding. More recently, MSAC awarded Seaton a National Endowment for the Arts-funded Creativity grant for painting. Earlier, the Montgomery County Arts Council awarded Seaton an individual artist grant and the Takoma Park Community Center provided Seaton with their first solo gallery space.

Seaton says, “This Executive Director job is a dream come true. It empowers me to bring my non-profit leadership experience, my commitment to DEI, and my love of ceramics together. I look forward to partnering with the Board, stakeholders, and staff to launch the exciting new Watershed. I invite everyone to support this amazing place.”

Seaton is married to Dr. Patricia Evans, who dabbles in pastels. The two have one daughter, Ryan, a college senior and sculptor studying Studio Art.

View or download a pdf of the press release.


Farewell Message From Fran Rudoff

Dear Watershed Community,

During the summer months, I walk the winding tree-lined road from my office to our main campus for lunch each day. Down the last stretch of driveway, a wonderful scene always emerges – resident artists and staff conversing, laughing, and enjoying a delicious meal.

Walking to lunch

The magic that manifests from the simple act of bringing artists together in shared space amazes and humbles me. Last summer, an artist noted that they made more progress on their work in ten days at Watershed than they had in six months in their own studio. Another artist forged new friendships that she described as a homecoming. I feel honored and proud to be part of an organization that engenders profound experiences like these.

As my tenth and final year here draws to a close, I find myself thinking that Watershed has thrived for more than 35 years because our mission changes lives: We provide artists with time and space to create and live in community. Watershed’s Founders often note how this formula is deceptively simple, and yet so powerful.                       

Artists during The Color Network’s 2021 session in the new studio

In order to reach our full potential, Watershed needed accessible facilities where artists could safely experience the magic of a residency. Our new year-round Windgate Studio fulfills this dream. In June of 2021, I felt positively elated to open the new Studio with our first residents – eleven artists taking part in The Color Network’s mentorship program. Not only did they create new work and form friendships during the session, since then, we have continued and strengthened our organizational partnership with a 2022 residency session and an exhibition in our gallery.

This is just one collaboration that blossomed because we can now offer more space for artists to make and show work and find community. The possibilities for future partnerships thanks to an updated and expanded campus that supports creative connection are boundless.      

Additionally, Watershed reaches more Maine K-12 educators than ever through our professional development workshops. With our new heated studio, art teachers converge on campus from every corner of the state during the fall and winter to learn new skills, share with one another, and find community. Thousands of Maine students are expanding their ceramic art skills as their teachers bring new ideas back to their classrooms.

Martha Grover (right) leads a K-12 teacher workshop

It truly takes a village to create and implement initiatives like these. I am profoundly grateful for all of the artists who participate in our programs, the donors who support us, the seasonal staff who play such a pivotal role in shaping the residency experience, and my year-round staff and Board who work tirelessly to make Watershed succeed. When I arrived in 2013, I could not have fathomed all of the extraordinary people I would meet or how the organization would grow and mature to meet the needs of artists today. It has been a privilege to be part of this evolution at Watershed.

Because of our strong community, I know that Watershed’s future is bright and our mission will continue to flourish.

With love and gratitude,

Fran Rudoff
Executive Director

2022 Summer Residency Recap

As the golden light of September evenings gives way to shadows earlier each day, we find ourselves reflecting on a most memorable summer residency season. Over the past three months, nearly one hundred artists joined us from thirty-one states and eight countries. They ranged in age from twenty to seventy-two and brought a breadth of experiences, ideas, and interests to our creative community.

Many of this year’s sessions were years in the making. The artists who developed the session themes began working with us in 2019 with intentions to hold the residencies in 2020. Looking back, it feels like the planning process took place during a different life altogether. But the organizers stuck with us through pandemic closures, a studio rebuild, and an altered 2021 season operating at half capacity. Perhaps the patience and determination required to hold these long-awaited sessions made the residency experience that much sweeter.

The following reflections from resident artists and photos from their time on campus capture moments from each of our remarkable 2022 sessions.

The Color Network Mentorship Session

For the second year in a row, we partnered with The Color Network (TCN) to host a residency for artists taking part in TCN’s mentorship program. Intended to deepen mentor-mentee relationships among artists of color, the session offered time and space for program participants to connect in person. Sixteen artists spent their time together making work, enjoying delicious food, firing Watershed’s salt kilns, and pursuing their creative practices with support from fellow participants.

“It was not just that we were artists of color but also that we were an inter-generational group. This allowed us to have such rich and generous dialogue with one another. I am so moved to have been included and am still processing the impact of this experience.”

  –Shaya Ishaq



“I wish I had experiences like this when I was a student. To know we aren’t alone in our corners of the world is really important. Diversity makes everyone better.”

  –Shoji Satake

This session was supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts with all artists’ residencies fully funded. Participants included Jasmine Baetz, Lena Chin, Patsy Cox, Magdolene Dykstra, Jesus Chuy Guizar, Shaya Ishaq, Ibrahim Khazzaka, Cassandra Scanlon, Kay Marin, Malcolm Mobutu Smith, Yesha Panchal, George Rodriguez, Chris Salas, Shoji Satake, Sam Shamard, and Vivianne Sisqueiros.

Biomorphic Idyll

For two weeks, the artists who took part in this summer’s Biomorphic Idyll session transformed the studio with their positively ebullient energy. Sixteen folks who draw inspiration from micro- to macro-cosmic natural forms gathered to share ideas and delve into their creative practices. They braved a salt firing with very successful results, lit some stellar campfires, and turned the studio into a karaoke stage. These few shots of the session capture just a touch of the magic they brought to campus.



“I had an incredible time at Watershed. My practice grew in ten days as much as it usually grows in half a year. I feel refreshed and super excited to keep creating.”

  –Grace Gittelman

Organized by Meaghan Gates, the session’s participating artists included Natalie Anthone, Angela Cunningham, Maya Vivas, Nan Farrar, Brianna Gerrish, Grace Gittelman, Rennie Jones, Sasha Koozel Reibstein, Coleton Lunt, Francesca McGinley, Walter O’Neill, Ashton Pawl, Elizabeth Peña-Alvarez, Meriel Stern, and RJ Sturgess.

Material Intersections

Multidisciplinary artists in this session explored painterly approaches to working in clay and filled the studio with color. They monoprinted on slabs, made burnout casts and drawings in slip, crushed kiln-fired mica into their surfaces, and — in what seemed to be a ‘22 Summer Residency session requirement — fired the salt kiln. Their positive cameraderie carried through all interactions from the studio to the dining table and beyond.



“This was an extraordinary residency…the other artists, the facilities, the staff, the meals, the conversations, the vibe. I loved every single minute and already know that my time at Watershed was pivotal.”

  –Susan Klein

Organized by Suzanne Dittenber and Susan Klein, participating artists in the session included Marcie Bronstein, Antonia Casino, Corinna Cowles, Susan Gregory, Philippe Hyojung Kim, Sarah Knight, Susannah Kopchains, Lauren Mabry, Jess Rapaport, Maria White, Claire Whitehurst, and Ryze Xu.

Resisting: Surface & Form

The artists who took part in the Resisting: Surface & Form residency spent their session in pure experimentation mode as they collaboratively explored ways to use stencils, silkscreens, cut vinyl, and countless other methods of adding pattern, color, and texture to their work. They also helped us celebrate during Salad Days by performing demos, selling work in the pottery sale, and all-around elevating the good vibes on campus.



“As an educator, most of the year is focused on my classroom and doesn’t always allow room for creating my own artwork. Being offered this time and space to work with others without any of the normal daily distractions was a gift. It helped to foster community, work through ideas, and recharge my creative spirit.” 

-Mike Gesiakowski

Organized by Naomi Clement and Shalya Marsh, the session brought together participants including Jennifer Allen, Ann Boyajian, Yael Braha, Marianne Chenard, Katerina Devadan, Erin Furimsky, Mike Gesiakowski, Kyle Scott Lee, Jill Oberman, Lindsay Rogers, Shana Salaff, Samuel Sarmiento, Piper Smith, Grace Tessein, and Kara Thomas.

Soda Pop!

During an unforgettable two weeks, the adventurous artists who participated in the Soda Pop! session ambitiously staged four soda kiln firings, experimented with raku, tried their hand at encaustic, and truly brought a lively pop of color to campus. These few photos only scratch the surface of their time together!



“Watershed provided an ideal environment in which to move my work forward. The collaboration, resources, and time were immensely beneficial. I learned so much during the short time through speaking with the other artists, speaking with the incredibly knowledgeable and helpful staff, and just going for it. I would recommend the experience to anyone!”

–Andy Mazzaschi

Organized by Trudy Chiddix and Tara Sartorius, the session included participating artists Japheth Aseidu-Kwarteng, Maya Blume Cantrell, Fabiola De la Cueva, Hana Dvorak, Benjamin Fedosky, Roy Maayan, Andrew Mazzaschi, Jocelyn Miller, Eliesa Peters-Bollinger, Tara Sartorius, Susan Siegel, Jeonghyun Song, Lorie Stout, Marion Toms, and Asma Waheed.

Clay in Other Frames

We closed out the 2022 Summer Residency with a session that convened interdisciplinary artists from around the US and abroad. Bringing their experience in other media to bear, participating artists took novel approaches to working in clay and filled the studio and campus with their experiments and collaborations. They raku fired, gas fired, went on plein air painting dates, found inspiration in Maine’s eccentric antique shops, collaborated with silk worms, lamented challenging breakages, installed finished pieces, gathered around the camp fire, and so much more.



Organized by Dan Gunn, session participants included Audrey An, Leslie Baum, Emily Cooper, Paul Erschen, Vincent Frimpong, Chris Frost, Ahn Lee, Bianca Macphersen, Louisa Neill, Barb Smith, Allison Wade, Keegan Whitford, Ariel Wood, and Chen Zou.

Thank you one and all for being part of an exceptional summer! Plans for 2023 residency sessions are already underway with more details coming this fall.






Executive Director Fran Rudoff to Retire

Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts Board of Trustees announces that Executive Director Fran Rudoff will retire in early 2023.

Rudoff began her tenure as Watershed’s executive director in 2013. During her time leading the organization, she spearheaded substantial improvements and additions to the campus. Under her guidance, the Center’s Watershed NOW capital campaign has enabled the organization to open a new gallery space; create year-round offices for staff; host outdoor installations on 22 newly-acquired acres; build a Studio Annex, complete with a wood shop and workshop space; offer new housing for staff; and construct Watershed’s new 7,500 square foot Windgate Studio, the cornerstone of the capital campaign. 

In addition to these transformative campus changes, Watershed’s assets have grown significantly under Rudoff’s leadership, $1.2 million in 2013 to over $5 million in 2021, in addition to a $3 million operating endowment. The organization now offers more residency and workshop programs and supports more artists with scholarships than ever before. 

Rudoff has also deepened Watershed’s commitment to antiracism, diversity, equity, and inclusion. She worked steadily to increase access to artist programs by creating new funding streams, developing outreach initiatives, and building relationships with partner organizations. A significant partnership with The Color Network (TCN) has resulted in two residency sessions funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. Nearly thirty artists of color who are taking part in TCN’s mentorship program convened on the Watershed campus in 2021 and 2022 to work together in person and grow their creative practices. Watershed also serves as TCN’s fiscal sponsor as they grow from a national affiliation of artists into an independent nonprofit. 

“In my years of experience with non-profit boards, I’ve never met a more competent and energized executive director than Fran Rudoff,” shares Watershed Board President Bernie Toale. “Fran easily juggles nine things at one time with efficiency and grace. Her achievements over the past ten years are hard to number, but the crowning glory is the construction of our new $3 million Windgate Studio built during COVID lockdown.” 

Prior to her time at Watershed, Rudoff worked for the State of Maine in regional planning and resource management, followed by nearly fifteen years as Executive Director of KIDS Consortium, a nonprofit that supported service learning opportunities for Maine students. Rudoff brought her expertise in education to bear on Watershed’s K-12 outreach programs by creating new professional development opportunities for Maine art teachers to hone their ceramics skills and reach more students. The popular grant-funded programs have positively impacted the artistic development of thousands of Maine youth.

All of these accomplishments are buttressed by Rudoff’s abiding care for Watershed’s community. While the organization is based in the small town of Edgecomb, Watershed’s extended network of friends, alumni, and supporters stretches from coast to coast. Rudoff forged lasting and meaningful connections with artists, collectors, and supporters around the country. 

“It has been my privilege to steward Watershed over the past decade,” she shared. “The organization’s mission and focus on artists is more important than ever. I am filled with gratitude for the many professional relationships and friendships that have become so important to me and for the opportunity to contribute to Watershed’s growth.”

The search process for a new executive director has begun, with an expectation of having a new leader in place at the beginning of 2023. The full position description and application information can be found here.

About Watershed

Founded in 1986 on the site of a former brick factory, Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts’ mission is to provide artists with time and space to explore ideas with clay. The organization was founded by artists with a common vision: to offer a supportive and enriching environment where artists could fully engage in creative practice while working with clay. This vision meets a critical need in the clay community and remains at the heart of Watershed’s programs.

The organization’s internationally-recognized residency model prioritizes the development of creative community; artists work alongside one another in an open-concept studio, collaborate on kiln firings, share meals, and forge lasting personal and professional connections. In addition to the residency program, Watershed’s extensive atmospheric wood and gas kilns draw artists from the region, and guest artist workshops offer hands-on learning experiences led by nationally-known ceramists. Watershed’s K-12 education program provides popular professional development workshops for Maine art educators and connects teaching artists with regional schools.

Interview with Grace Tessein

During the early days of the pandemic, 2022 Salad Days Artist Grace Tessein found herself seeking opportunities to spend time in nature. While hiking near her home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, she collected broken eggshells from hatched birds, feathers, animal bone fragments, flowers, and leaves. Tessein illustrated the surfaces of her ceramic work with the items found on these excursions and imagined that this process would translate well to Salad Days plates. She proposed exploring the paths and trails of Maine and creating plates with imagery tied to the area.

While we expected Tessein would develop a catalog of regional imagery, we never imagined each of her plates would be completely unique! In our interview below, Grace shares more about her process, memories from her months at Watershed spent making 400 plates, and wise advice on noticing, slowing down, and appreciating the natural world.

Watershed: What was your inspiration for your plate design and what do you love most about the finished plates?

Grace Tessein: I wanted to make plates that felt sturdy, durable and meant for use. I wanted the shapes of the plates to be free-form and organic, with drawings that represent the plant and animal life that occupies Maine. I love that no two plates are exactly alike. I’ve never been great at or satisfied by making pots that all look the same, so it was nice to embrace that aspect and run with it.

WS: How did you approach the plate making process?

GT: I came into the residency with a stronger background in production food service than production pottery. Working in a bakery taught me a great deal about time management, organization, controlled repeated movement, and patience, all of which I brought into the plate making process. I used paper templates to cut out about thirty slabs of clay a week. I draped the slabs over bisque molds and added a coil for the foot. Once the plates could release from the mold, I cleaned them up and stored them in plastic lidded tubs until I could slip and draw on them. 

WS: What was the most rewarding part of your experience as the Salad Days Artist?

GT: The point when I realized that I wasn’t going to fail was pretty rewarding! I was really unsure of my abilities going into this. I sometimes feel like an imposter in functional ceramics because it wasn’t how I entered into the medium. It sort of crept into my art practice in grad school and just never left. The greatest reward was figuring out my capabilities as a potter.

WS: What was the most challenging aspect of producing a large quantity of plates?

GT: About half way through when the process felt redundant, I noticed I was slowing down. Doing the same thing day after day to meet my weekly quota was not sustainable. I needed to switch things up to make it interesting again. So I made some different drawings, took more walks in the woods, and found new inspiration for the plates.

WS: In what ways did the experience impact your current work or practice?

GT: I’ve become more efficient in the studio and more confident when making large quantities work. I used to be concerned about all the “what if’s” in ceramics but I’ve let go of a lot of the worry. It was freeing in that way; I trust myself more and don’t nitpick my work as much as I did before.

WS: What other artists’ work do you admire and why?

GT: [2021 Watershed seasonal staff members] August Lantz, Sophia Larsen, and Sarah German! I’ve always found it fascinating to live and work so closely with other artists. Being at Watershed with these folks inspired me.

WS: What was your favorite part of being in Maine for an extended time? Was there anything that stuck with you or inspired you about Maine or Watershed when you got home?

GT: The sounds of coyotes and the barred owls at night, and the quiet.

WS: What advice would you give to future Salad Days Artists?

GT: Touch the spotted touch-me-nots. Take time to feed the calves [next door at Straw’s Farm], they will remember you and come running over for snacks when they see you, like very big dogs!

When the moon is full and the sky is clear, you can walk back up the hill [from the studio] without a flashlight and it’s magical. When the moon is new, and the sky is clear, lay in the grass and you can see every star.

Ask for help when you need it.

Purchase your 2022 Salad Days plate tickets online now and select a plate by Grace Tessein at the fundraiser on July 9. Plates are limited and tickets will only be available online in advance.

Bill Daley: A Remembrance

In this guest post, Watershed co-founder Lynn Duryea shares memories of artist William P. Daley and recounts his connection to Watershed. Daley passed away on January 16, 2022.

When I think of Bill Daley, the word devotion comes to mind. Devotion to his family, his friends, his work, his teaching, his spiritual life. He was generous in that devotion, giving to everyone and everything expansively. His ability to communicate, his sense of humor, his acknowledgement and acceptance of his humanity, made him accessible and profound.

Bill Daley & Lynn Duryea

I met Bill in October of 1990 at Open Door, a workshop for Maine residents at the Haystack School. I’ve long since forgotten the focus of the weekend, but I do remember the energy in the room. It wasn’t unusual for Bill to be one of the last to leave the studio late at night, after helping us navigate the structural challenges of what we were doing. His closing critique was masterful. Anyone who has had the experience of Bill as a teacher can say the same thing. I am deeply grateful for the friendship and mentorship that grew out of that weekend.

Bill was a supporter of Watershed from its early years, understanding our mission and our potential. We honored him in the first group of Watershed Legends in 2007, our way of acknowledging leaders and innovators in our field. Bill certainly was that.

Bill gave the closing remarks at Ignite / Invite, Watershed’s 25th celebratory symposium in 2012. In typical Bill fashion, there was a lot of laughter as well as ample food for thought. The picture of Bill with fellow Watershed Legends John Mason and Richard Shaw (below) was taken at that time.

John Mason, Richard Shaw, and Bill Daley at Watershed’s 25th anniversary celebration


During the 1991 NCECA in Arizona, Bill’s forthrightness had a major and lasting impact on Watershed. That year, the Randall Session was Art in the Age of AIDS. The panelists included gallerist Garth Clark, collector Stephane Janssen, AIDS activist Peter Staley, and Gustavo Gonzales, an art therapist from New York City. During the panel, Gustavo mentioned he had been invited to lead a workshop the following summer at Watershed for people living with AIDS—provided there was enough funding. Bill was in the audience of thousands. He stood up and said loudly, “If everyone in this room gives $2, this workshop will run.” Hats, paper bags, and backpacks got passed. After the panel, we sat in the hallway counting stacks of bills. Those funds, in addition to contributions from the panelists, funded the 1991 workshop. The Watershed Workshop for People with HIV/AIDS continued until 2004. A publication about its history is currently at the printers.

Thank you Bill, for what you gave—as an artist, a teacher, a collaborator, a mentor and a friend. But most of all for who you were.