Last July, Rebecca Zucker lived and worked at Watershed and neighboring Dandelion Spring Farm as part of our new Farm & Fire Fellowship program. The fellowship enables college juniors and seniors to explore their dual interests in farming and ceramic art while living at Watershed. Zucker and two other fellows spent half their workdays assisting in the Watershed studios and the other half working in the fields and gardens next door at the farm. Zucker shared her thoughts on the fellowship with us:
My experience working at Watershed and Dandelion Spring Farm changed the way I think about myself, the way I work, and the things I care about. I grew mindful of Brick Hill Road (the dirt road shared by Watershed and the farm) as a fertile space where people come to work in earnest–where the work is tied to the rich soil and clay of the area and to the energetic and generous communities that flourish there.
Watershed welcomes artists at all stages in their careers. We joined one another as peers, sharing space, materials, and ideas. It was easy to approach someone I didn’t know and discover we had much in common during a casual conversation. Over the course of the residency, my experience working with the studio staff emboldened me to take on unfamiliar projects and helped me develop new skills, confidence and connections.
I had never worked on a farm before, but I took to it quickly and was warmly welcomed into the community. My intuition and hand-skills used in the clay studio easily transferred to farm work as I found a rhythm in the repetition of seeding and picking. The farm crew consisted of bright women from all over the country and world who were willing to answer my questions and help me gain familiarity with the tools and chores. I looked forward to walking down the hill each afternoon to find Dixie, the farm’s pet lamb, curled in Brie’s lap or to learn about medicinal plants from Beth in the herb garden.
Some of my favorite moments occurred when life at the art residency and farm bled together. I loved finding cucumbers, squash, and garlic scapes on the Watershed dinner table, knowing that we had harvested them just days or hours earlier for a truly farm-to-table meal. Conversations about food over a lunch at Watershed spurred resident artists to visit me in the greenhouses after our meal and find inspiration from the forms and tastes of the farm. Some evenings, the farm apprentices would come visit me in the studio for a post-dinner wheel throwing lesson. Farmers and artists would often gather around the campfire, sharing stories and ideas late into the night.
I particularly responded to the sense of community found on Brick Hill Road, and to the similar ways that ceramic artists and farmers use their hands to process earthen material and create from it. Working with the soil produces a similar magic to watching an object take form on the wheel–tiny seeds germinate as their energy pushes through the earth to generate something new. These parallel experiences informed my creative practice during the residency and I anticipate that they will contribute to further developments in my life and work in the future, as will the community that I found during my time in Maine.
Watershed is accepting applications from current college juniors and seniors to participate in the Farm & Fire Fellowship program in July of 2016. Application deadline is March 31.
Learn more & apply
Watershed summer sessions are starting to fill but there is still space available in most sessions! Over the coming weeks, each session’s leader will be guest blogging about the upcoming 2016 residency that they have organized. Our first post comes from Lisa Conway, leader of Summer Session II: Ceramics in Nature, from June 19 to July 1.
I grew up in Michigan, went to grad school in Louisiana, and have progressively made my way west over the past twenty-five years. I’ve lived in Alaska and Canada and spent beautiful summers in Colorado and Montana, but have made Portland, Oregon my home since 1999. I’ve completed many residency programs over the years and was lucky to be invited by Lynn Duryea to participate in a Watershed Artists-Invite-Artists (AiA) session in 2007. I feel even luckier to be going back this summer and to share the experience with a whole new group of people.
For me, Watershed offers just about every aspect I could want in a residency program. The setting is beautiful and the food is great. There are few distractions and the staff really know how to anticipate all your needs so you can make the most out of a two-week session. The studios have a calm, quiet energy to them. I love the way light filters in through the rustic wood buildings there. I’m not a very “techie” clay person, so Watershed is just right for me with a natural, secluded, almost romantic atmosphere.
I chose the theme “Ceramics in Nature” for this session as it sums up my personal relationship with clay and is broad enough to encompass many different ways of working. I love that we have potters and sculptors and installation artists all coming to this session. I’m especially looking forward to seeing how others relate to the theme and using that as a launching pad to expand my own practice. I hope everyone else coming feels the same way!
To get participants in this session kick started I’ll be sending out a list of readings in the upcoming weeks around the theme. I also hope we can all participate in a test-tile and a surface-texture swap exchange. I want to take advantage of the fields around Watershed with outdoor drawing sessions and see how those drawings may translate back into the studio. Mostly, I want everyone to have the opportunity for their own personal Watershed experience and come away inspired with new ideas and new friends.
Session II still has several spaces available for any artist to join the session. Click here to register for the session or apply for a scholarship to attend.
In 2015, how many…
…cords of wood did Watershed burn?
…dozens of eggs were eaten by resident artists?
…pounds of clay got used in the studio?
Click here to learn what happened at Watershed by-the-numbers last year.
On Friday, December
brought together twenty-five Maine art educators for a workshop on ceramic surface printing techniques to use in the classroom. Workshop leader (and Watershed
alum!) Hope Rovelto
shared low-tech, cost effective methods for image-transfers and direct printing onto clay that educators can easily incorporate into their curriculum.
Support for the workshop was underwritten by a grant from the Belvedere Traditional Handcrafts Fund of the Maine Community Foundation. In-kind support came from Lincoln Academy and ceramic artist & teacher Jonathan Mess
, who provided studio space for the daylong session.
Next summer, Watershed will host a one-week residency session for K-12 art educators. Art teachers with experience working in clay will learn from one another and from guest artists who will offer mini-workshops on studio techniques appropriate for K-12 classrooms. Maine educators are eligible to apply for $500 scholarships to offset their expenses. Space is limited and the session is filling quickly, so interested educators are encouraged to register soon.
Residency Dates: Session IV, July 24-29, 2016
Watershed is the proud recipient of a three-year award from the Belvedere Traditional Handcrafts Fund of the Maine Community Foundation. Grant funds are supporting outreach and marketing efforts, especially for local events that connect ceramics with locally sourced food and our neighboring farms. Funds are also supporting new educational programs for K-12 art educators interested in expanding their own ceramic practice and opportunities for their students. This includes scholarships to Watershed’s 1-week Summer Residency session in 2016 for K-12 Art Teachers.
The Davis Family Foundation has supported a number of important facility improvement projects at Watershed in recent years. In September, Watershed was awarded a new grant for $14,600 to complete an updated property survey and engineering analysis of our campus that will help with the planning process for new studio and community buildings.
We are grateful for this important foundation support and look forward to sharing the results of these initiatives in the months to come.
Welcome to Watershed’s new blog! We’ll use this space to keep you up-to-date on Watershed-related news and events. The 2016 season holds great promise both in and out of the studio and we look forward to sharing developments in the months to come.
Right now, the cabins and factory are empty and a quiet stillness blankets the campus as leaves fall from the trees. It’s hard to believe that just a couple of months ago the studio was bustling with activity and we were wearing shorts and relaxing on the lawn. Here are a few photos from the summer to reminder you of warmer days. We hope to see you here next summer!
Pre-session volunteers helped prep the campus for the residency sessions ahead
Almost every summer session included a woodfiring
Woodfiring results from Session II, led by John Neely and David Peters
Session I artists at Muscongus Bay Lobster. Photo by Elenor Wilson.
Local food feast and ceramic tableware exchange during Session III
Staff and artists plating the feast food
Session III invited artist Josh Copus produced numerous bricks from Watershed molds
Salad Days plates before the big event
Evenings around the campfire
A foggy morning on campus
Session V leaders Guy Michael Davis and Katie Parker, with Ri and Reed Fahnestock, and invited artist Andy Byers
Sculpture by Rebecca Morgan, Session V
Every session concluded with a brick oven-fired pizza party.
Summer Residency regular, Ed Pell
Mary Barringer led a surface development workshop in September
Watershed's fabulous 2015 Summer Staff members