Spirit of the Absurd: Summer Session IV Preview

Hello, this is Carolyn Baginski! Fellow ceramist Heather Kaplan and I have co-organized Summer Residency Session IV: The Spirit of the Absurd, which will run from July 28 to August 9 at Watershed this summer. Heather is Assistant Professor of Art Education at University of Texas, El Paso and I am a ceramic artist and middle school art teacher in Columbus, Ohio. The session we have developed will focus on the “Serious Making of Absurdity in Ceramics” and we aim to explore this topic through joy and merrymaking!

Ryan Kelly, “Self Loathing Narcissist”


During our session, we plan to call on the power of the absurd to create community, build meaning, and make sense of the absurd political, social, and cultural times we find ourselves in. While immersed in the serenity of Maine’s lush landscape, participating artists will engage in the serious work of the silly, humorous, harebrained, daffy, nonsensical, screwball, unbelievable, unreasonable, irrational, fantastical, ludicrous, illogical, low brow, trivial, kitschy, campy, and absurd. As humans, we know that laughter and fun are integral to life. Through this session, we will explore the question “How can a disposition of playfulness and absurdity contribute to creating thoughtful and thought-provoking artwork?”

Kim Tucker, “Oooweenow”


Artists Ryan Kelly, Kim Tucker, Benjie Hue, Andy Sloan Jackson, and Seana Higgins will anchor the session with us. Heather, our invitees, and I have a lot in common. We all draw on art movements like that of Dada and the West Coast Funk Ceramics as well as the traditions of the figurine, souvenir, and commemorative object.

Heather Kaplan, “Play and Display”


We want to invite you to find community and camaraderie in our play and merrymaking. We understand that fun is subjective but ultimately it is a lens with which to see the world differently and a tool to make connections between ideas and people. We approach the residency with this in mind and with sensitivity toward multiple views of fun and community. In addition to the organic conversations that happen among artists working side by side, we plan to share optional readings and presentations about the more nonsensical facets of ceramics.

Carolyn Baginski, “Still Life with Lemons and Goats”


Heather and I have both attended sessions at Watershed before and are beyond excited to return. Watershed provides the perfect mix of studio community and dedicated time to investigate new ideas. For both of us, time at Watershed means time to work alongside other artists while building social and conceptual connections.

Any artist who is comfortable working independently in a clay studio may join this residency session. Sign up for the session here. For those interested in participating with the support scholarships or work-exchanges, please apply here. Financial assistance applications are due February 15. 


The New Ancient: Summer Residency Session V Preview

“There is no civilization that has not produced great ceramics.”

—Roberta Smith


In this guest post, Ginger Lukas and Matt Merkel Hess share their plans for Watershed 2019 Residency Session V: The New Ancient. Several spots are still available for those interested in joining the group from August 11-23. Learn more and register for this session.

Our Watershed session, The New Ancient, will focus on how to use the 15,000-year history of vessels to make ceramics in our post, post, postmodern time. Through shared work time with a variety of invited artists and a visiting critic, we’ll examine how history, technology, tactility and humor inform pottery today.  

The idea for the session started with a news article in Fall 2017: Japanese instant noodle maker Nissin released a limited edition Jomon Doki Doki ceramic Cup Noodle cooker that was a small but faithful recreation of a 3,000 year old Jomon vessel. Combining ceramics, pop culture and utility in a meme-worthy idea sparked a conversation between the two of us that has continued to this day.

We are both primarily ceramics makers in wide-ranging practices that include painting and neon. As “Elder Millennials” we also love a good ceramics meme. Inspired by Cup Noodle, Matt has taken a deep dive into Jomon-inspired forms, such as Jomon milk crates and buckets. Ginger has been ripping off ancient Chinese and Mayan temple incense burners while also copying take-out containers, plastic dollar store dinnerware and using ideas like .jar files to craft MetaData jars. You might be lol-ing (we hope you are) but we are very serious. 😉

We first connected online almost a decade ago and our studio visits and texts are almost always a dialogue around ceramics, critical issues in craft, and clickbait-ish pottery memes and other articles. As trained vessel makers, we are constantly asking what the pottery of the information age can/should look like. We now have access to nearly every documented pot in history, but what do we do with this knowledge? As these issues are foremost on our minds, we will bring them into the shared studio environment of Watershed.

We are very pleased to be joined by artists Ebi Baralaye, Stephanie Kantor, Jeffry Mitchell and Robert Raphael who all work with expansive ideas of the possibilities inherent in the vessel. Through a shared dialogue with these amazing artists, and visit for a few days by curator and critic Elizabeth Essner, we hope to circle around issues of the vessel for today and in the future.

The New Ancient is all about the mishmash of information, styles, and techniques in this age of Google Image search – we know everything about the past but are still discovering what can be mined in the present. Please join us this August as we continue this process of figuring out what vessels tell us about ourselves and the future.

Any artist who is comfortable working independently in a clay studio may join this residency session. Sign up for the session here. For those interested in participating with the support of scholarships or work-exchanges, please apply here. Financial assistance applications are due February 15. 

Reflections on the 2018 Summer Residency

As our summer staff members pack their cars and head off to their next adventures, the summer residency season draws to a close. We are grateful for all of the artists who shared in the 2018 residency with us. Please enjoy the following images and reflections from each of this summer’s sessions.

Pre-Session: May 20-June 1

In late May, eleven Pre-Session artist-volunteers arrived at Watershed to help prepare the buildings and grounds for the season ahead. The group spent their first two days on campus pursuing their own projects in the studio and then tackled an array of maintenance and facilities tasks. They spruced up the studio, painted the interiors and exteriors of the residential cabins, mixed 1500 pounds of clay, helped with grounds-keeping and landscaping, and stacked four cords of wood. Their instrumental support helped Watershed’s small staff immensely as we readied to welcome artists for the summer.

Volunteers included Cara Beglin, Sarahlynne Bradford, Georgia Cronin, Ben Culbertson, Gail Culbertson, Luke Fasano, Nadia Koltsoon, Mary Montgomery, Pam Nobles, Andy Rogers, and Lizaveta Romanovski. 

“I was baffled by the pure positivity that I experienced at Watershed. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it. Everyone was all-in, genuinely present, ready to work, and share.”

-Nadia Koltsoon


Session I: Breaking Tradition, June 3-15

Watershed’s first residency of the season brought together artists, designers, and curators interested in exploring new modes of sharing work in both physical and digital spaces—from pop-up shops and supper clubs, to animations, videos, and performances. Participating artists spent long hours in the studio, visited nearby swimming spots, and experimented with a range of atmospheric firings during their two weeks together. They also took a field trip to Ayumi Horie’s studio in Portland, ME. She gave the group a tour, demoed her air-release press mold, and discussed the origins of Pots In Action and the ways that the national and international dialog around clay and ceramic work continues to evolve.

Participating artists included Alexandria Algiere, Mérida Anderson, Brianna Burke, Taylor Carter, Kyle Demmon, Lindsey Hampton, Natalie Hererra, Ali Karsh, Taylor Kibby, Negina Kolesar, Shannon Maldonado, Ben Medansky, Jason O’Malley, Yelani Stieg, and Kelly Witmer.

“During my two weeks at Watershed I gained the confidence to fire my own kilns, knowledge of new techniques shared by the generous group of artists around me, friends and connections that will live beyond this experience, inspiration and enthusiasm that has flowed into my making back home, and a solid 5 pounds from all of the delicious meals. I left Watershed feeling full in all the best ways.”

-Ali Karsh


Session II: Ceramics in a Transdisciplinary Studio, June 17-29

Fawn Krieger and Emily Weiner organized a session for artists who work in a variety of disciplines—from photography and video, to portraiture, painting, installation, and social practice. The group was interested in exploring how clay can integrate with other methods and materials. While many of the participating artists had extensive experience working across media, many were relatively new to clay. The dynamic and innovative ways that they approached working with the material led to a wide variety of experiments and finished pieces.

Participating artists included Tyler Beard, Sasha Bergman, Amelia Carley, Suzanne Goldenberg, Fawn Krieger, Daniel McGarry, Keiko Narahashi, Ed Pell, Amy Pleasant, Leah Raintree, Amber Sandoe, Dustin Senovic, Barb Smith, Molly Surno, Daniel Trejo, Emily Weiner, and Payton Wiedner.

“The residency was an incredibly fruitful time working in a communal space was a welcome change from the usual privacy of my studio. There was an almost constant exchange of ideas, information, and possibilities.”
-Keiko Narahashi


Session III: Collective Makers, July 8-25

After completing formal training, many artists discover that finding a creative community can be challenging. Artistic collectives provide support, encouragement, and visibility for those with independent studio practices. During Watershed’s mid-summer residency, members of the Kansas City Urban Potters collective (KCUP) anchored a session that exemplified the collaborative spirit that the clay community cultivates. Participating artists worked day and night in the studio, hosted a fantastic (and fantastical) costume party, and spent time together on and off campus. KCUP artists also hosted a one-day demonstration workshop for regional ceramic artists. 

Session III artists included Carmen Allen, Christina Bendo, Kaitlyn Cirielli, Chandra DeBuse, Paul Donnelly, Mark Fehl, Tommy Frank, Rain Harris, Meredith Host, Kim Kirchman, Eder Perez, Kyla Toomey, Alex Watson, Adam Yungbluth, and Melissa Yungbluth.

“I think Watershed is a strangely magical place. Every time I have been there I take back something that later impacts my work in a meaningful way.”

-Rain Harris


Session IV: Women, Ceramics, and Community, July 29-August 10

Members of this sessionorganized by Normandy Aldenused Jenni Sorkin’s book, Live Form: Women, Ceramics, and Community, as a foundational text to examine how women clay artists have influenced and shaped the ceramics field over the last seventy years. In addition to spending hours together in the studio, the diverse group of participating artists held daily discussions on women’s collective history in clay and how the current political and social climate plays a direct or indirect role in their work.

Participating artists included Normandy Alden, Mary Barringer, Elisa DiFeo, Jackie Fischer, Michelle Grey, Nicole Gugliotti, Aisha Harrison, Noelle Hiam, Dana Lofink, Aysha Peltz, Liz Quackenbush, Deborah Rapp, Tracy Ren, Holly Roberson, and Hilda Steckel.

“My experience at Watershed fed my soul. Being several years out of grad school and mid-career, uninterrupted studio time is hard to come by. The fact that it was complimented by excellent fellow artists, including the amazing staff, meaningful discussions, and swimming made it all the more sweet.”

-Nicole Gugliotti


Session V: The Surface Exchange, August 12-24

Shanna Fliegel created a session for artists and makers interested in exploring new ways to develop the surface of their work. Participating artists shared strategies they use in their own studios during informal demonstrations and discussions. The group fired Watershed’s soda kiln and enjoyed experimenting with a range of surface development techniques.

Participating artists included Estelle Berrebi-Hurst, Sukjin Choi, Joe De Pinho, Shanna Fliegel, Zahava Friedman, Joshua Hamilton, Sarah Leber, Melissa Mencini, Joyce Nagata, Brooke Noble, Adams Puryear, Chanakarn Semachai, Candace Sidner, and Megan Whetstine.

“Watershed exceeded my expectations. Having two weeks to completely immerse myself in clay and exchange techniques with other artists inspired me and lifted my work to the next level. I hope return to Watershed, as it was an unforgettable experience that profoundly influenced my work and how I think about clay.”

-Zahava Friedman


Clay Education with POW!

Artist Hayne Bayless believes in the magic of mud. “Teaching pottery to kids may ultimately solve the world’s problems,” he says. Bayless and several other New England-based teaching artists spearhead Pots on Wheels! (a.k.a. POW!), a mobile clay education project that brings ceramic art lessons to communities around the region. Watershed partnered with POW! in early July to work with Maine youth through an outreach effort supported by the Morton-Kelly Charitable Trust. 

On July 12, POW! educators parked their large yellow truck under a grove of trees at Portland’s Riverton Boys and Girls Club. Bayless and fellow teaching artist Hannah Niswonger opened the back of the truck and set up heavy tables covered in canvas, rolling pins, large blocks of clay, and a pottery wheel complete with a banana-shaped seat padded with foam. The children from the Boys and Girls Club joined the POW! instructors under the pines to try their hand at creating with clay. Students had the opportunity to build functional and sculptural vessels, and to throw work on the potter’s wheel for the first time. Staff from the Boys and Girls Club and partners from A Company of Girls assisted the youngsters with their projects (and enjoyed making a few items themselves!).

The children eagerly awaited their chance to try the wheel. Bayless gently guided them through the process of centering the clay and bringing up the walls of their creations. After their initial attempt at wheel throwing, several students were hooked on the process. They immediately walked to the back of the line to wait for a second turn. 

Niswonger led another group of students through the hand-building process, showing them how to slip and score pieces together and how to select appropriate tools for their projects. The POW! instructors also pre-made numerous leather-hard plates that the children could paint with colored slips. Watershed studio staff will kiln fire the pieces and return them to the Boys and Girls Club members later in the summer. 

The following morning, POW! visited the Morris Farm, an agricultural education center in Wiscasset. The farm runs a summer camp program for youth ages 4-12. Earlier in the week, Camp Director Lisa Packard led the campers on a clay-digging expedition at the farm. The group shared with Niswonger and Bayless that the clay they dug from the creek was “soft, gooey, full of pebbles and grass, cool, and sometimes dry.” After comparing the commercial clay to the clay they dug, the campers tried out POW!’s new plate press—invented by Bayless and Niswonger. The youngsters flattened discs of clay on the bottom of the press and then used a lever (and all their might) to sandwich the clay between two heavy, circular pieces of wood. “It reminds me of a waffle-maker,” remarked one camper. After letting the finished forms dry in the sun, the students decorated their plates with colorful slips. 

“The POW! program added depth and new experience to our campers’ time exploring natural clay in our creek and digging in our different soil types,” shares Packard. “We are grateful that POW! and Watershed chose the Morris Farm for this project!”

The final stop on POW!’s Maine tour was Watershed’s 24th annual Salad Days festival.  For the third year in a row, Watershed visitors of all ages had the opportunity to learn from POW!’s instructors. Participants took part in an ongoing exchange by selecting finished pieces to keep from POW!’s project gallery and leaving their completed work to be fired and shared with future students. 

2018 Salad Days

On July 14, Watershed welcomed nearly 600 visitors to Salad Days, a celebration of local food and handcrafted ceramics. This annual art- and craft-filled festival features a picnic buffet of fresh salads that guests enjoy on handmade ceramic plates that they keep.


2018 Salad Days Artist Christina Bendo lived and worked at Watershed during the summer of 2017, creating more than 500 plates for the event.  The plates were made of clay dug from Maine riverbeds and processed in Watershed’s studio. Bendo decorated the surfaces with images of flowers and foliage she found on campus and in nearby environs. “I seek to evoke a connection to place by using site specific materials and motifs in my work,” explains Bendo. “I was excited to work with Watershed clay because it carries the history of the region and community.”

In addition to enjoying a delicious lunch and a new handcrafted plate, visitors watched pottery demonstrations by master ceramic artists, toured Watershed’s grounds and studios, listened to live music, and won unique ceramic pieces in the art raffle.

The Invitational Pottery Sale featured work by more than 20 artists from around the U.S., including members of Kansas City Urban Potters, who were in-residence at Watershed during the summer session that coincided with Salad Days.  A number of Maine artists also sold work in the pottery tent and in the popular beer stein tent.

Pots on Wheels! ( a.k.a. POW!), a mobile clay education project that brings pottery lessons to communities around New England, offered visitors a chance to try their hand at creating with clay. After making a piece, guests chose finished works from the POW! project gallery to keep, and left their work to be fired and claimed by future POW! visitors. Other arts nonprofits sharing information about their organizations at Salad Days included the Maine Craft Association, the Society of Arts and Crafts, and Studio Potter magazine.

Funds raised during the celebration support Watershed’s community education and residency programs. We are grateful for the support of our Salad Days Sponsors —including  Ames True Value Hardware, First Advisors, J. Edward Knight Insurance, Jeffrey Spahn Gallery, Laguna Clay Company, Renys,  and H. Chester Wright, Inc —along with the many visitors who celebrated with us this year.

Ceramics in a Transdisciplinary Studio: Summer Residency Session II Preview

Process image from Summer Session II invited artist Leah Raintree’s “Estimated Ultimate Recovery (EUR)”


When artists think of Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts, they often envision a studio filled with potters throwing functional pieces on the wheel, sculptors hand-building forms, and groups firing atmospheric kilns at all hours. While all these scenes hold true, Watershed also provides space where artists who work across disciplines can experiment with ways to integrate clay into their multifaceted practices. In 2015, Future Retrieval’s Katie Parker and Guy Michael Davis organized a session that brought together artists who primarily work in media other than clay to investigate the role of ceramics in contemporary art and craft. In 2017, a social practice collective called The Brick Factory spent a summer residency working on performance-based projects that integrated clay into their pieces. This summer, Fawn Krieger and Emily Weiner have created a new opportunity for artists who work across genres to connect during Summer Residency Session II: Ceramics in a Transdisciplinary Studio

Untitled piece by Session II invited artist Keiko Narahashi


During this session, artists who work in a variety of disciplines—from photography and video, to portraiture, painting, installation, and social practice—will explore how clay can integrate with other methods and materials. Over the course of the two weeks together, artists will work in clay with an eye to how the medium may meet with other media—as a foil, an aggregate, an extension, or a central player. The residency community will gather for several brainstorming sessions in order to foster exchange and inspiration between participants.

“Experiment in Resistance 4” by Session II Co-Organizer Fawn Krieger


Fawn Krieger’s multi-genre work examines themes of ownership and exchange. Her projects transform spectators into participants, challenging expectations of agency, desire, and proximity. Krieger’s extensive planning routinely culminates in series of discrete sculptures, often produced from clay, plaster, or concrete. She notes that these materials collapse human time and converge domestic and expansionist material histories. Krieger has exhibited nationally and internationally and has received numerous grants and awards to support her work. She teaches at Adelphi University and serves as the Grants Officer and Education Director at The Keith Haring Foundation. 

“Harlequin” by Session II Co-Organizer Emily Weiner


Emily Weiner’s recent work includes a series of oil paintings placed in hand-built ceramic frames. In these paintings, symbols that have been repeated across cultures and epochs are put into a visual and playful conversation. In her practice, she explores ways to read visual threads across history-from antiquity and the Renaissance, to female and craft traditions of art-making, to archetypes in folklore and theater. Her paintings and integrated ceramic frames question what happens in the interplay between visual images and tactile experience. Emily teaches at The School of Visual Arts in Manhattan and Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. She is the founder and director of The Willows Apartment Show, and co-directed Soloway Gallery in Brooklyn from 2013-2017. 

Video still from Invited Artist Wynne Greenwood’s “Culture Keeper”


The artists who Krieger and Weiner invited to anchor the session share an interest in how ceramics function in relationship with other studio approaches. In each case, they find the dynamic between clay and other mediums (2-, 3-, and 4D) provides fertile ground for exploration. Invited artists include Suzanne Goldenberg, Wynne Greenwood, Keiko Narahashi, Janine Polak, and Leah Raintree.

Any artist who is interested in cross-disciplinary practice and has experience working with clay may join this residency session. Signing up is a simple registration process. For those interested in participating with the support scholarships or work-exchanges, please apply here. Financial assistance applications are due February 15. 



Arlynn Nobel Reflects on the Magic of Watershed

From her first step into Watershed’s rustic studio, Arlynn Nobel—a 2017 summer artist-in-residence and Watershed board member—hoped to discover what lay in this space that could ignite new ideas in her work. During the first day of her Watershed residency, she reflected that she “could feel the history” and could feel that this environment was “a hot bed for creativity.”

Arlynn Nobel during her 2017 residency.

Arlynn Nobel was born and raised in Detroit, but has lived and worked in Neebing, Ontario, a small town on the shore of Lake Superior in Canada, for many years. She earned her BFA from Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in 2007 and her MFA from University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in 2011. She describes herself as a “committed vessel maker, who enjoys challenging the limitations of the clay medium, opening up new avenues of expression by devising my own techniques for altering and assembling thrown forms.” Her experimental approach to ceramics drew her to Directly PlayfulWatershed’s 2017 Session III residency organized by Didem Mert. This group of mostly functional makers, which also included Lisa Buck, Ian Childers, Mike Cinelli, James Davis, Amanda Dobbratz, Rachel Donner, Bebe Federmann, Yoonjee Kwak, Hannah Medovnikov, Annie Morford, Ronan Peterson, Carla Prinster, and Koen Vrij, came together to explore surface, form, and collaboration during their two-week residency. Because of Arlynn’s extensive background in ceramics, including many workshops and years of school, she was drawn to Watershed’s unique non-hierarchical model. She reflects upon certain moments in the Watershed studio during her 2017 summer residency:

As I sat in front of my clay wondering what I would produce, it hit me—there were no instructors and no demos. I was in new territory. I realized that I had to dig deep within myself. All of a sudden I felt an intense sense of freedom and joy. I could make whatever I wanted to. I could explore unknown territories, or build on my current work, and there would be no critiques or professors with boundless instruction and input. I know that I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for all these wonderful professors and workshop leaders, but in that moment I felt free. So there I was, and I knew it could be the start of something magnificent.

I ordered my tried and true clay that I have been using for years. While I was waiting, I worked with the low-fire Watershed clay, which is full of grog and has opposite properties from what I’m used to. Using this clay I noticed something wonderful, and found that the Watershed clay’s qualities added a whole new element to my forms. I sent back my usual clay and I realized that changing clay bodies could jump start new and wonderful explorations in my work.

Arlynn experiments with her functional pieces using the Watershed clay.

The rough quality of the clay adds new elements to Arlynn’s pieces.











I could feel the boundless energy in the room from fifteen peers who were in the same boat. Everyone was warming up, getting to know each other. Session leader Didem Mert was great. She walked around to see how everyone was doing and suggested that people collaborate. What?? Have someone else decorate my precious work?! I had never done that before. Much to my surprise I loved the collaborations. They gave me ideas of how to shake things up and make my work better. Koen Vrij, a fellow resident, walked over one day and suggested I use the feet from my bowls for my mugs. They looked fantastic (thank you, Koen!).


2017 Session III’s pieces waiting to be fired.

Artists unload the kiln of their finished work.











Ultimately, the answer to my question of what makes Watershed life-changing, is that within this space I found what comes next. How wonderful there is a place like Watershed to nurture our passions.”

One of Arlynn’s finished pieces.


The Surface Exchange: Summer Session V Preview

In this guest post, artist and session leader Shanna Fliegel shares her plans for Watershed 2018 Residency Session V: The Surface Exchange. Several spots are still available for those interested in joining the group from August 12-24. Additional participants include guest artist Mariko Paterson and AIA members Sukjin Choi, Melissa Mencini, Brooke Noble, and Adams Puryear.

Learn more and register for this session.

Shanna Fliegel


Several years ago, I was invited to a Watershed session, but my responsibilities as a new mom took precedence. Life can be so messy, exhausting, and scripted at times but I kept the idea of coming to Watershed with me. Watershed exists as a wild, magical bubble “somewhere” in Maine…somewhere in my imagination. The stories I have heard about the clay, raw wildness of the area, and strength of the community have settled inside of me. Throughout my journey with clay I have always felt gratitude for places like Watershed-places that cultivate space and time for artists to connect, work, think, and make. Now more than ever, I feel a personal need to visit Watershed and share with those who also need a place to anchor them in order to make new work, or just make new friends. I see this residency as a quiet breath of fresh air with a dash of collaborative babble.

Fliegel works on a pot


As artists, we may regularly feel the allure of multiple approaches to surface and form in clay, but choose to pigeon-hole our work into a rigid “look” or identity. During this Watershed session, I envision our group transcending the normal fall backs we often rely on and branching out to try new techniques and materials. Seeds of change take time to grow, but the Watershed residency offers the perfect opportunity to nurture the experimentation we often avoid out of convenience, fear, deadlines, or lack of time.

Detail of a plate by guest artist Mariko Paterson


I invited artists to anchor the session based on the diversity of their surface methods while also considering the variety of forms they work with. Several participants use surface as a place to “draw” on their clay, adding narrative, figurative, or decorative elements to their work. Others approach surface through texture, layering, and material experimentation. Through informal demonstrations, a collaborative tile exchange and brainstorming exercises to generate imagery, we will investigate a wide range of strategies for developing the surface of our work and explore techniques that are both familiar and new to us. I plan to share drawing methods I use to create visual depth on a flat surface in order to “push” or “pull” imagery to the background or foreground of a piece. I also plan to share a simple screen printing technique called thermo-faxing or thermal imaging. Participants will have the opportunity to experiment with underglaze, mason stains, slip, and oxides. We’ll also spend time exploring mishima, sgrafitto, stencils, stamps, glazes, luster, and decals. 

Work in progress by Shanna Fliegel


I am thrilled to have organized The Surface Exchange and look forward to sharing this fruitful adventure with other artists and makers! 

Read more about the Surface Exchange and sign up to join the session.

Break Tradition at Watershed! 2018 Summer Session I Preview

Breaking Tradition Guest Artist Ben Medansky


During Session I: Breaking Tradition (June 3-15), artists and designers will come together to explore new modes of making, marketing, and showing work. Rather than situating ceramics solely in stores and white-walled galleries, artists are bringing attention to their work by exhibiting in non-traditional physical and digital spaces. Dinners that double as pop-up sales, homes that serve as storefronts, and Instagram-ready lifestyle shoots provide context for clay pieces and attract audiences through multifaceted experiences. The session is anchored by a group of artists, designers, and curators interested in how these creative methods of generating visibility are influencing the ceramics field and transforming the way twenty-first century makers run small businesses.

Taylor Carter


Taylor Carter, of the Cincinnati-based design studio CKTC, has organized the residency. She explains, “My goal for this session is to create an open environment for artists, designers, and curators to make work together. Our time at Watershed will give us the opportunity to harmonize our different areas of making. With access to the facilities at Watershed, we can create collaborative work and generate new ideas that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.”

Ben Medansky


Guest artist Ben Medansky joins the residency from Los Angeles. His work is often inspired by patterns, repetitions, and variations found in both natural and industrial environments. Influenced by modernist architecture and industrial design, Medansky’s pieces give a nod to mechanical processes while maintaining the variation and individuality found in handmade objects.

Lindsey Hampton


Carter recruited a variety of participants to anchor the session, including Vancouver-based artist Lindsey Hampton, whose background in graphic design pairs seamlessly with her clay practice. By harnessing the power of photography and social media to share her dreamy and playful pastel ceramic pieces, she relates her clay work to her range of creative pursuits. Multi-disciplinary artist Mérida Anderson has a background in fashion and is also a talented cook. They successfully use pop-up events, like their Vegan Secret Supper Clubs in New York, Montreal, and Vancouver, to develop relationships with new audiences in informal settings. Shannon Maldonado also got her start in fashion but now curates a lifestyle shop (which happens to also be her home), Yowie, in Philly.  Ali Karsh studied industrial design and psychology before finding her way to clay. She aims to “create simple pleasures and positive interactions” through her designs.

Portland, Maine-based studio potter, Ayumi Horie, will also visit Watershed during the residency to speak about her work and methods of connecting with communities around the country and world. Most ceramic artists on Instagram know her widely followed and ongoing curatorial project, Pots In Action, and many have engaged with her project  The Democratic Cup, which encourages civic and political engagement.

Connect with this wonderful group of makers during Breaking Tradition! Space is available for any artist who is comfortable working in a clay studio to participate. 


Watershed Board “Passes the Torch” to New Leadership Team

Joyce Cohen, Paul Stark, and Chris Gustin

Watershed is fortunate to have a dedicated group of extraordinary people who serve on our Board of Trustees and Advisory Council. At a recent meeting in St. Petersburg, Florida, board members were graciously welcomed to the St. Pete ceramics community by friends affiliated with the Morean Center for Clay, the Morean Arts Center, and the Chihuly Collection.

Our board held two days of meetings and “passed the torch” of leadership from Paul Stark to Joyce Cohen. We thank Paul for his years of service as board President and are thrilled to welcome Joyce to her new role!

Joyce Cohen joined the Watershed Board of Trustees in 2015. She spent many years as Assistant Professor of Art History at Simmons College in Boston, MA, and retired from teaching in 2012. At Simmons she taught popular courses on contemporary art and created a class focused on the collections in several of Boston’s preeminent museums. She also developed an arts administration major that connected students with diverse performing and visual arts organizations in New York City. Her research focused on self-taught artists and new relationships between art and craft, with her work largely centered on women artists in the mainstream like Kiki Smith, and “outsider artists” including Gayleen Aikens, Clementine Hunter, and Nellie Mae Rowe. Joyce also served on the Collections Committee and the Board of Trustees of the Fuller Craft Museum and was Advisor to the Foundation of Self-Taught Artists. Prior to her tenure in the academic world, Joyce worked as a partner with Aptekar/Cohen Arts Management, helping collectors acquire art for corporate spaces and private collections.

We are also delighted that long-time board member JoAnn Schnabel is our new Vice President. JoAnn is a ceramic artist and Professor of Art at the University of Northern Iowa. Her work includes modular pieces often inspired by natural forms and sculptures that reference the vessel tradition. She has exhibited nationally and internationally, and her work is included in numerous public and private collections.

In addition to these leadership changes, the board welcomed three new trustees:

  • Patricia Harrington of Portland, ME – currently maintains a ceramics practice, retired from planning and management positions in the private and public sectors
  • Don Ridley of Phoenix, AZ – ceramic artist and Department Head for Ceramics at the Phoenix Center for the Arts
  • Sharon Townshend of Durham, ME – ceramic artist and long-time Watershed board member (including roles as past president and secretary)

and three new Advisory Council members:

  • Susan Beiner of Phoenix, AZ – ceramic artist and Lincoln Endowed Chair of Ceramics at Arizona State University
  • Lynn Peters of Worth, IL – ceramic artist and Professor at Moraine Valley Community College, Palos Hills, IL
  • Hope Rovelto of Portland, ME – ceramic artist, print maker, and owner of Little Chair Printing

We also bid farewell to Trustees Jim Lawton and Tim Zajac, and Advisory Council members Alexandra Forst, Shawn O’Connor, and Melissa Stern. They have all contributed their time, talents, and resources to supporting Watershed over the years and will be greatly missed.

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