Interview with Salad Days Artist Kari Woolsey

Kari Woolsey at work in the Watershed studio, 2019

 

When Kari Woolsey signed on to make 550 plates for Watershed’s 2020 Salad Days celebration, none of us anticipated that a world-wide pandemic would bring public gatherings to a sudden halt. While we look forward to hosting our fundraiser in person again, we’re thrilled to offer a highlight of Salad Days this year by featuring Kari’s handmade plates for sale online. We talked with Kari about her work, interests, and experience at Watershed in order to give supporters a better sense of the person behind the colorful plates that anchor 2021’s virtual Salad Days.

A stack of Kari’s summery plates

Watershed: Kari, tell us about your plates. What was the inspiration for the colors and design?

Kari Woolsey: My work is inspired by everyday domestic objects. These plates have patterns inspired by kitchen linens, while the colors—blue, chartreuse, pink, and gray—were chosen from my favorite aspects of summer: blue skies, lemonade, watermelon, and summer rain showers. I am partial to these colors from my childhood in South Florida but they also reflect my summer at Watershed—swimming in lakes, luscious green of new spring growth, popsicles on a hot day, and the weathered barn studio. I also enjoy the mix and match aspect of the glaze colors and patterns in this body of work. I chose colors that I thought would complement an array of salads and the variety of hand-stamped patterns create an element of discovery when turning over a plate.

WS: How did you approach the production process?

KW: I hand-built my plates using a slab base with an added coil for the rim. I pinched the plates to create an added textural quality. Additionally, the bottom of my plates have a slightly raised pattern. To get the texture on the bottom of the plates, I shaped a slab over a hump mold with a stamped pattern and repeated the pattern on the rims of the plates using hand carved stamps.

The textured back of a plate

WS: It’s unusual to find such detail on the bottom sides of everyday dishes. Can you share why you chose to give attention to this often-overlooked space?

KW: I incorporated patterns and textures into my Salad Days plates in every way that I could in order to bring attention to the entire plate. The raised pattern on the bottom and the stamped pattern on the rim provide an element of repetition and texture but also offer a way for the plate’s user to explore its surface—whether it’s holding the plate while you fill it up with food or while you wash the plate and leave it in the rack to dry. I wanted to consider every surface throughout the plate’s lifecycle.

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

KW: There are a few aspects of the residency that I look back on with so much fondness. I really enjoyed meeting many past Salad Days Artists during the event’s 25th anniversary. I also feel so grateful for the caring and supportive friends I found in the summer staffers and resident artists. I have many fond memories of studio chats, conversations over delicious meals, and swimming in lakes and rivers during my summer at Watershed.

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

KW: It was challenging to fire such large batches of work. Throughout the three-day process of candling, firing, and cooling, I found it stressful to wait and see how the freshly glazed plates turned out. This got easier the more kiln loads I fired and the more finished pieces I could check off my list to 550 plates.

Woolsey’s in-progress plates drying in the studio

 

WS: How did the experience influence your current work?

 KW: Making plates gave me a new perspective on time management. I broke the process into several steps while hand building, slipping, and glazing. The experience provided a benchmark for how much I could accomplish in a very focused environment with a short amount of time.

I also let my mind wander during repetitive parts of the production process. My daily routine in the studio often led to brainstorming sessions. I kept track of new ideas in my sketchbook and have been revisiting those ideas in my current practice.

WS: What other artists’ work do you admire?

KW: There is an endless list of ceramic artists I admire! A few that come to mind are Joanna Powell, Pattie Chalmers, Linda Lopez, Martina Lantin and Future Retrieval, which is a collaboration between Katie Parker and Guy Michael Davis. I am also enamored of Laura Letinsky’s photography and the fiber work of Dee Clements.

WS: What is your favorite memory from your time in Maine?

KW: I loved the walk down to the studio every day. It offered time to clear my head before a day of working. Seeing the variety of roadside flowers blooming and the lambs growing next door at the farm marked the different stages of summer.

Another standout memory took place after the summer residency ended. While finishing up the plates and cleaning out my studio, the remaining staff and I made a pasta dinner with loads of tomatoes from the garden. It was so nice to end the summer with a great group of friends, lots of laughs, and a delicious meal. 

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

KW: Find what you need to work best in the studio—whether it’s music, audiobooks, podcasts, swimming breaks, or taking a walk. I listened to many audiobooks and podcasts and asked for recommendations from each group of residents.

At times the workload will seem very daunting, but just keep going. I found it comforting to remember that many artists before me had completed the task. Before I knew it, the summer was over and the plates were finished.

Kari’s plates are on sale online through July 11, 2021. Visit the Watershed Shop.

Factory Reflections From Reeder

For the past thirteen years, Watershed Studio Manager Reeder Fahnestock bore witness to the ever-changing organism that was the “Factory” – Watershed’s original studio that welcomed artists for 35 years. In this guest post, Reeder shares his abiding memories and indelible connection to this special space and reflects on the hopeful promise of the new Windgate Studio.

I was there when they came for the Factory. I bore witness as the giant claws took their first bites, disgorged them into waiting trucks that hauled them up the drive and off the property. The building had occupied that spot for fifty years and before that had enjoyed an active first life up at the top of the hill housing chickens before they cut it in half, rolled it down into the valley and converted it into a factory for making bricks. But now its usefulness had found its end and I was there to watch as it was taken away.

As the Factory’s primary custodian for the past decade I developed a relationship with the building not unlike one might form with a stray dog. It had come into my life largely without warning or introduction, and it came “as is”, leaky roof, heaving floors, bugs, rodents and all. In short, it came to me in need and showed no inclination of leaving anytime soon. But it also came with an endearing backstory and a charm all its own and so, what at first glance was pity, quickly became sympathy, empathy and finally love for a structure that had so humbly served so many for so long, so faithfully, in so many different ways. The Factory was wholly without pretention or even aspirations. We got along well and did our best to ignore each other’s shortcomings.

The Factory sheltered more than just chickens and artists. The Factory was its own ecosystem, home to birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and a hundred thousand insects. Bittersweet twined through the walls. The rain dripped through the roof, snow blew through the gaps in the siding, and every spring the floor turned into marshmallow fluff as the frost left the ground. Each spring meant opening up the studio – sweeping away the cobwebs, getting the water running, patching the new holes in the roof, re-leveling all the shelves of materials that had moved with the frost heaves. Now, “opening the studio” means turning a key. The old studio didn’t even have doors, let alone keys.

Vintage images of Reeder and summer staffers at work in (and on) the Factory

 

In its place a new structure has risen like the proverbial Phoenix, a building of concrete and steel, a building exuding self-confidence and proclaiming a sense of permanence the Factory totally lacked. The Factory looked like it might dissolve into matchsticks during the next thunderstorm, while the new building looks like it could withstand the worst Nor’easter the coast of Maine has ever seen. The wildlife has been relegated to the outdoors and the polished concrete floors have drains for ease of cleaning. And that is as it should be. There will be those that knew the studio as it was before who will now bemoan the loss of “character” and refer to the new one as “sterile” and “institutional”. But one need not suffer for one’s art.  If brute nature is their inspiration and muse, it is all still available within a few simple steps beyond the studio doors. I will be happy to accommodate their needs and will gladly move a wheel and a table to the dooryard if that is where they work best.

It is true, I will miss the barn swallows who now must find new homes. I loved to see them swoop through the building with a bug in their beak fetched back to a clutch of chicks with open, greedy mouths. And their nests were architectural wonders. But as industrious as they were, still they could not eat all the mosquitos, nor even could the spiders, inspirational builders in their own right with their foot-wide-webs covering every nook and cranny. And so, come an August night when the humidity hangs thick in the Maine coast air and I, at labor late on my wheel, find no reason to swat and curse the clouds of winged and heinously buzzing blood suckers because they have been banished forever from the building, I will silently rejoice and be grateful. If the resident artists take no notice of their absence, take for granted a dry work space free of biting insects, I will give silent thanks again.

When Covid came to Maine and we were forced on short notice to cancel our programing for the year, I felt fortunate to be a part of an institution that didn’t panic, but had the forward-thinking leadership in place to pivot instead. Watershed pulled on its waders, went to work and even in the worst of times turned a big idea into a reality of true consequence. There were no deer-in-the-headlight stares around our conference table, just a steely resolve to grasp the moment and forge ahead with diligence and conviction. The result has been nothing short of constructing the premier ceramic facility on the east coast, if not in the entire United States. That is no small feat and is a testament to the resiliency of Watershed and the importance of its place in the community. It goes without saying that this would not have been possible without the deep and broad support of Watershed’s friends and allies and as such it stands, literally in concrete and steel, as evidence of the importance of our mission.

Watershed and The Color Network receive $30,000 National Endowment for the Arts Grant

Watershed was recently awarded a $30,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to support a three-week artist residency organized by members of The Color Network (TCN).

TCN supports BIPOC artists working in clay by providing resources, visibility, and professional development opportunities. They are also building a mentorship pipeline that links experienced and emerging ceramists. During their residency at Watershed this summer, participating artists will have unlimited access to our new state-of-the-art studio to work on independent and collaborative projects. They will also take part in group work focused on developing mentor-mentee relationships.

“I think it’s so important to have mentors you identify with,” shares TCN steering committee member Natalia Arbelaez. “BIPOC artists will sometimes be the only ones like them in their community or institution. Having support from someone who has already navigated similar experiences is so valuable.”

Natalia Arbelaez, “Ceremonies for González”, performance, 2019

 

Fellow TCN artist Adam Chau agrees, “When I was in school, it was very hard to have intimate critiques with people who didn’t necessarily understand my culture. I hope that our mentorship can be a supplement to artists who find themselves not being able to resonate with their peers or immediate community.”

Adam Chau, “TXT”, porcelain, cobalt, white gold luster, 2018, photo: Jorrit Taekema

 

With TCN members scattered across the country, virtual meetings and online conversations have provided creative connection. However, the collective felt that making work together and spending time with one another in person was essential for mentors and mentees. The majority of TCN’s steering committee—which also includes artists April Felipe, Salvador Jiménez-Flores, and Yinka Orafidiya—had previously participated in residencies at Watershed. They agreed that our open-ended program structure and 54-acre campus would provide the ideal place to gather and develop their mentorship program.

“Until very recently, I thought I had nothing to offer as a mentor…I mean, who am I to advise anyone in a craft that I’m still figuring out myself?” Yinka Orafidiya says, “But I realized that, at a bare minimum, my value is captured by continually showing up—an offer of Black representation, which is sorely lacking in American ceramics. Through my many failures, rejections, and missteps, I have accumulated a wealth of wisdom that I now believe will be useful to the next generation of BIPOC makers.”

Yinka Orafidiya, “Freedom Cups”, Underground Railroad code printed on red stoneware, 2018

 

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Watershed has instituted new campus health and safety measures to accommodate physical and social distancing in accordance with Maine CDC guidelines. These changes result in a decreased number of participants but still allow for eleven artists-in-residence to spend three weeks together on campus. 

TCN intends for this residency to act as a springboard for additional virtual and in-person programs. The small group of participating artists plans to connect with their greater community and the public during the residency via livestreamed artist talks, demos, interviews, and conversations.

April Felipe, “Wade”, porcelain, cotton thread, glaze, pastel, acrylic paint, 2018

 

Like many arts organizations, Watershed’s programs are funded through a mix of donor support, grants, and direct fees paid by participants. By applying for grant funding, Watershed and TCN endeavored to remove financial barriers to participation. “Residencies are powerful places where artists develop their work and create deep relationships within their field,” shares April Felipe, who first took part in a Watershed session in 2016. “For many BIPOC artists, cost is too large an obstacle while also navigating if the space will be welcoming and safe. We wanted to create an opportunity that could eliminate those obstacles. Funding through the NEA grant allowed us to do this and more.”

This $30,000 Grants for Arts Projects (GAP) award is one of 1073 selected projects from a pool of 1674 applications submitted in 2020. The National Endowment for the Arts awarded nearly $25 million in support for 64% of all applicants with an average grant amount of $23,190.

Salvador Jimenez-Flores, “Nopal Espacial”, brass, cast iron, rose gold plating, brass hose, 2019

 

Subscribe to Watershed’s e-newsletter to keep updated on ways to connect with TCN during their session and find additional NEA grant information at arts.gov

Windgate Studio Construction Update

With on-site programs on hold due to COVID-19, Watershed has taken advantage of a quiet campus to begin construction of a new state-of-the-art studio. The design for the 7,500 sq ft building includes:

  • Single-level floor plan designed for ceramic work with easy access to raw materials and kilns
  • Glaze room, plaster room, and spray booth
  • 4800 square feet of open-concept studio space
  • Full accessibility and ADA compliance
  • Energy efficient temperature regulation in all seasons
  • Comprehensive air filtration and ventilation systems

Over the summer of 2020, Watershed’s leadership worked feverishly with architect Jane Gleason of Greywork LLC to complete construction drawings for the studio building, hired JF Scott Construction of Winthrop, ME as our General Contractor, and secured necessary state and local permits. And then the real work began:

AUGUST

Storage containers were brought on site to care for the Factory’s contents during the construction process.

Watershed’s Founders George Mason (l), Lynn Duryea (c), and Chris Gustin (r) reminisced about the organization’s beginnings and paid their respects to the Factory.

The Studio Annex was completed in late summer 2020. Some contents from the Factory have been relocated to this fully accessibly and climate controlled building, which provides much-needed space for maintenance work and adjunct programming in all seasons.

SEPTEMBER

The pace picked up in September as detailed electrical, plumbing, and mechanical plans were completed. Site work began to reveal the footprint of the new studio.

OCTOBER

The week of October 5 was bittersweet as we bade farewell to the Factory and began work on the Windgate Studio’s foundation. A protective structure for the historic Beehive Kiln ensures its safety throughout the construction process.

While digging the new foundation, we struck clay! This beautiful vein of glacial marine clay runs along the footprint of the original studio and expanded into the land behind the barn.

NOVEMBER

Blessed with a relatively warm fall, work on the studio continued steadily throughout the month. The foundation and exterior walls were completed, steel beams were erected, plumbing and drains were installed and insulated, and a beautiful maze of radiant heat coils were set in place.

 

DECEMBER

Although we had some early winter snow, work continued at a fast pace toward the goal of a fully enclosed structure before the New Year. The cement floor was poured and smoothed – all in one day!

Roof trusses moved into place, followed by windows and initial layers of roofing materials.

JANUARY

The new year shifted the focus of construction to the studio interior and to the breezeway connecting the studio to the kiln shed. 

Architect Jane Gleason of Greywork LLC and Studio Manager Reeder Fahnestock outside the breezeway that will connect the Kiln Shed to the Windgate Studio.

 

As the wall framing went up inside, we all began to get a better sense of the rooms and what 4800 sq. ft. of open studio space feels like.

Jane and Reed examine the interior space.

 

The final roofing and exterior siding will be completed by the end of January as the electrical and plumbing details take shape inside.

Stay tuned for more updates in the weeks and months ahead…and look forward to completion in May 2021!

Salad Days Recipes

While Salad Days won’t take place on campus this year, we can still offer our community some delicious salad dishes to make and savor at home. The following recipes come courtesy of Marguerite Grifka, a talented chef from the San Diego area who was slated to cook at Watershed in 2020.

Please share your Salad Days salads on social media! Tag them with #watershedsaladdays to add your culinary creations to our virtual picnic.

Fennel, Lobster, and Corn Salad

Serves 4 as a side dish or starter

Ingredients:

  • 1      Small (3”) bulb of fennel, trimmed of fronds
  • 2-3   Radishes
  • ¼      Red onion
  • 2       Corn ears
  • 6 oz   Cooked lobster meat, coarsely chopped
  • 1       Lemon
  • 2-3T Mayonnaise
  • 2T     Chopped fresh thyme

Directions: Remove kernels from the corn cob and sauté in a teaspoon of olive oil for 3-5 minutes until some kernels are nicely browned. Place in a mixing bowl. Thinly slice fennel, radishes, and red onion (a Japanese mandolin works great for this) and add to bowl. Zest half the lemon into the bowl. Add the juice of half the lemon, mayo, thyme, a generous pinch of salt, and a good grinding of black pepper. Toss to combine and taste. Adjust lemon and seasoning as necessary.

Kale, Quinoa, and Cranberry Salad

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups    Kale largest stem removed, shredded a ¼” wide
  • 2 cups    Cooked quinoa
  • 1½ cups Cooked chick peas (one can drained)
  • ½ cup     Dried sweetened cranberries
  • ¼ cup     Almonds, sliced and toasted
  • 1 bunch Parsley, chopped
  • 4            Green onions, chopped
  • ½ t         Salt
  • Citrus Vinaigrette, to taste (see recipe below)

Directions: Combine all, toss and season with salt and pepper to taste. For best results, let sit for at least an hour before serving.

Citrus Vinaigrette

  • 3 T  Lemon juice
  • ½    Orange, juiced
  • 1 t  Zest from the orange, grated
  • 1 t  Garlic, minced
  • 2 t  Dijon mustard
  • ½ cup Olive oil
  • ½ t  Salt & black pepper

Add all ingredients into a jar and shake well, or combine in a blender and pulse until mixed. Use immediately or keep for a month in the fridge. This is a great one to make ahead and keep around. Let sit out a room temp 15-20 minutes to warm olive oil before using.

Arugula, Blueberries, and Chicken Salad

Serves 4 as a side dish, 2 as a main dish

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz     Arugula
  • 4 oz     Roast chicken, shredded
  • ¼ cup  Loose basil leaves
  • ½ cup  Fresh wild Maine blueberries (frozen works great too)
  • 2 oz.    Goat cheese, broken into chunks
  • 1 cup   Croutons (this is a great opportunity to use up stale bread and make your own)
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper
  • Watershed’s Classic Balsamic Vinaigrette (see below)

Directions: Combine the arugula, croutons, half the chicken, goat cheese, and blueberries. Toss with ½ the dressing, a few grinds of fresh pepper, and a sprinkle of salt. Distribute the remaining chicken, cheese and berries across the top and drizzle with a little more dressing.

Watershed’s Balsamic Dressing (as remembered by Reba of Hatchet Cove Farm)

  • 1        Shallot or garlic clove
  • 2 T     Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T     Lemon juice
  • 2 t     Dijon mustard
  • 1 t     Maple syrup or other sweetener
  • ½ cup Extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ t     Salt, or to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 to 5 Drops of hot sauce (optional)

Directions: Place peeled shallot or garlic in the food processor or blender, and mince.  Add the remaining ingredients and process until emulsified, 1 to 2 minutes. Taste and season with additional salt, if needed, along with black pepper and hot sauce.

To mix by hand, place minced shallot or garlic, vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, and sweetener in a bowl. Slowly whisk in olive oil.  Taste and adjust seasonings.

Watershed History: PWA Workshop

As 2020 Pride draws to a close, we are thinking about members of the LGBTQ community who participated in Watershed’s workshop program in the ’90’s and early ’00’s for people living with HIV/AIDS. In this guest post, Watershed co-founder Lynn Duryea recalls the roots and impact of the program, as well as memories of the people who took part.

Twenty-eight years ago this month, I had one of the most profound experiences of my life: eight days spent at Watershed with a group of people with HIV/AIDS. Coming from Massachusetts and Maine, graciously funded by their AIDS service organizations, these folks were willing to join in the experiment to see how community and creativity could sustain them, no matter what their circumstances. The image of our banquet the last evening of that session is evidence of the energy and connection between workshop participants, Watershed resident artists, and staff.  

I was inspired to initiate this program during a visit to Watershed the previous summer when Gustavo Gonzales, an art therapist from New York, had been in residence with a group of people living with AIDS. I am forever grateful to Gustavo for laying the groundwork for this program that became an important part of Watershed until 2004. Next year marks the 30th anniversary of that initial workshop season, and we will be sharing more of the history and development of the program. Additional thanks go to Mackenzie Harris, a therapist, and Ellen Hirshberg, a visual artist, who worked with me to guide the program – and to the many Watershed resident artists and staff who joined with us in support. Sadly most of the participants of that 1992 workshop died long ago, but their images and memories are very much a part of Watershed’s history. They are not forgotten.

Watershed co-founder Lynn Duryea (pictured back right) with therapist Mackenzie Harris (front row right) and participants at the 1992 Watershed workshop for people living with HIV/AIDS

 

Here is what workshop participant Patrick Clark had to say about his time at Watershed that year: “I shed many layers of my outer casing during this workshop. I wrote, I painted, I made a few ceramic posts. I returned home vulnerable and with humility, more in touch with my being than I thought possible.”

Further reading on the program:

Update Regarding COVID-19

With heavy hearts, we are writing this update on Watershed’s plans for the coming months.
 
The Watershed Board of Trustees convened an emergency session over the weekend to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the 2020 season and consider what steps we must take for the wellbeing of our community. After weighing the latest information from local and national experts, we have made the difficult decision that we must cancel our 2020 summer residency and workshop sessions, and the Salad Days fundraiser.
 
Just a week ago, we remained hopeful that it would be safe to move forward with our summer season. However, with safety as our primary concern, we have no choice but to take this action.
 
Given the developing nature of the pandemic, we anticipate that plans may be in flux for the next couple of months. We plan to share regular updates regarding alternative programming regularly via email, Instagram, and Facebook. No decisions about this year’s fall residency or workshop have been made at this time. Registrations for these programs remain open as we monitor the situation. Additionally, we will continue working with the 2020 summer session organizers and workshop leaders to reschedule their sessions in 2021. 
 
Watershed has always been a place where community is forged. The connections artists and friends make during their time together on campus can last for a lifetime. Through this time of physical distance, supporting one another is more critical than ever in the face of uncertainty and change. We are reminded of a 2001 Watershed residency session that brought artists from China to Maine with a theme of “Wild Heart, Careful Mind”. It seems a valuable reminder now to be brave yet cautious as we all take steps together into the unknown. 
 
We wish you and your loved ones health and safety during this challenging time.
 
3.25.20

COVID-19 Message From Watershed’s Director

 
Dear Friends,
 
As we all adjust to a new reality with respect to the COVID-19 virus, our thoughts are with the people who make up our extended creative community across the country and world.
 
Along with you, we are monitoring the situation closely and will heed the advice of experts in the coming weeks and months. Our collective health and wellbeing is of paramount importance and we will make programming decisions accordingly.
 
Watershed events planned for the next month have been postponed. This includes a workshop for K12 educators on March 20 and our beloved Soup Bowl Supper that was scheduled for April 2. We will keep you posted about new dates.
 
Out of an abundance of caution, our staff members are working remotely. We will be checking the office voicemail and our emails regularly and will respond to your messages as quickly as possible.
 
For now, we are hopeful that our residency season will proceed as scheduled. It will be deeply disappointing for all of us if the situation requires continued social distancing into the summer and fall months. Artists who are already registered for a session are receiving separate communications from us.
 
During this time of uncertainty we aim to be a resource that can offer connection and community to our extended network. Please stay in touch with us on Facebook and Instagram, or listen to our Conversations with Legends podcasts featuring ceramics greats Wayne Higby, Jack Troy, and Paula Winokur.
 
Watershed will continue to share updates as we learn more about the situation and its implications for summer programming. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have. 
 
Francine Rudoff
Executive Director
Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts

Material Intersections: 2020 Summer Session I Preview

In this guest post, Suzanne Dittenber and Susan Klein share the inspiration and ideas that led them to organize 2020 Summer Residency Session I: Material Intersections. Additional participating artists include Eleanna Anagnos, Philippe Hyojung Kim, Carole d’Inverno, Nicholas Nyland, and guest artist Lauren Mabry Space in the session is available for those interested in joining the group from June 7-19. Learn more and register for this session.

Lauren Mabry

 

Our session explores the intersection of painting and ceramics. We are trained as painters and teach painting, yet clay has become an important material for both of us and we are excited to offer a residency opportunity for ceramicists, painters, and all hybrid artists. The residency will focus on painterly qualities as embodied in clay. We are inspired by the long history of artists who play with the relationship between sculpture and painting.

 

Susan Klein

 

Susan: Ceramics are a natural development in my work. I have been building structures as subjects for my paintings since undergraduate school, but it has only been in the past 3-4 years that I have let sculpture take the leading roll. Clay is the perfect material that allows for a balance of planning and improvisation. My sculpture practice is completely intertwined with painting. As a painter, response and improv are key – I rarely make an image that is preplanned. Clay takes a bit more planning, so I do prepare with drawings, yet I am able to change my mind, make mistakes, and work fluidly. I think about surface in similar way as to a painting – where is it glossy? Matte? Smooth? Gnarly? Patterned? I am able to feel my way through the process just as if I were painting. I glaze and oil paint on my ceramics – I like the mash-up of processes and surfaces.

In this workshop I look forward to fostering playfulness, placing tactile response and funky improvisation at the forefront of the process. It is also our intent to work closely with the other artists to trade ideas, collaborate, and experiment with the possibilities of a painterly, open- ended approach to ceramics.

Suzanne Dittenber

 

Suzanne: About four years ago, I began to fold ceramic processes into my studio work. I had been making paintings of water-damaged magazines and books. While I was interested in the translation of these sculptural forms to a two dimensional expression, I also wanted to capture their reliefs in a three dimensional capacity with their subtle undulations and variations. I began by dipping water damaged pages of Artforum in plaster and this has expanded to a mold making, slip casting process. The resulting body of work considers the minute and subtle mark-making two- dimensional surfaces, namely books and magazines, isolated from the attendant imagery and text these publications house.

Philippe Hyojung Kim

 

Color has long been a very prominent investigation in my practice. While my work has recently focused on a tighter range of neutrals, I am excited to nudge color back into my work in a more expressive way. At Watershed, I will be working with pigmented casting slip to create new sculptures.

Susan Klein is Assistant Professor of Painting at College of Charleston. Suzanne Dittenber is an Assistant Professor of Painting at UNC Asheville.

Learn more and register for this session.

 

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.

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.

Regular registrations for this session have filled. Add your contact info to the wait list and Watershed will reach out to you should a space open up (and spots often do open up!) Artists interested in applying for scholarship support may still select this session as one of their choices. Join the wait list for Biomorphic Idyll today or apply for a scholarship.