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.