NEA Grant Press Release with The Color Network

TCN group 2022


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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