Artists who work in clay develop the themes for Watershed’s Summer Residency sessions. During this time when our lives and relationships are increasingly centered online, these sessions provide an opportunity for artists with common interests to gather in person. To organize a session, an artist proposes a theme that relates to their practice and convenes a small group of artists who share an interest in the proposed theme. This core group anchors the session. Additional participating artists then apply to join the themed session via our Summer Residency application. Once the whole group is in residence, all participating artists form one community during their thematic retreat.
Watershed is committed to supporting equity in the ceramics field. We endeavor to create a welcoming culture for all artists taking part in our programs and encourage proposals from artists of diverse backgrounds, experiences, identities, and perspectives.
Creating a themed residency is a collaborative process between the artist-organizers and Watershed staff. We encourage prospective session organizers to read through the details below and contact us to discuss ideas, explore collaborations, and learn more.
Annual proposal submission deadline is June 15 to organize a session in the following year.
The process of organizing a themed session begins the year prior to the proposed residency. Application requirements include:
- A proposed session theme
- Preferred session dates
- Information on the organizer, including images of work
- Information on four to six invited artists, including contact information, work samples, details about why you have selected these artists to invite, and confirmation that these invitees have agreed to take part in the session
The annual application deadline is June 15.
A panel of working artists reviews the submissions. They consider the quality and feasibility of the session theme, the organizer’s and invitees’ work and scope of practice, and how well the theme will resonate with a broader contingency of artists.
Applicants will be notified in August of their proposal’s status.
Timeline & Process
Step 1: Planning & Preparation
- An artist develops a residency theme and serves as the session organizer. Occasionally two artists will work together to organize the residency theme and session.
- In April, Watershed hosts an online information session for artists considering submitting a proposal.
- While fine-tuning their theme, the organizer invites a minimum of four and a maximum of six additional artists to form the core group that anchors the session.
- Many successful invitee groups include artists who have known each other for years while others have only connected online and first meet in person during the residency. Watershed prioritizes groups that reflect a diverse range of backgrounds, experiences, and identities.
- The organizer must confirm that all invited artists fully understand the deadlines and fees associated with participating in the residency. See below for financial details.
Step 2: Proposal Submission and Review
- The organizer submits the thematic residency proposal to Watershed by June 15 (June 30 in 2023).
- Watershed’s panel of practicing ceramic artists reviews the submissions.
- In August, Watershed notifies the session organizer of their proposal’s acceptance and works with them to schedule dates for their session.
Step 3: Session Cohort Development
- Session dates are confirmed in early fall; invited artists submit their registration materials and deposit payments in late October.
- It is rare that all invitees from the original proposal can attend the session once it’s scheduled. During this phase, new invitees may be added to the group.
- In November, Watershed’s Summer Residency application and scholarship application opens to the public. Additional artists apply to join the residency by February 1.
- A panel of practicing artists reviews Summer Residency applications and makes scholarship award determinations.
- In March, the additional 8-11 available session spots are filled by artists from Watershed’s Summer Residency application.
Step 4: Pre-Orientation & Arrival Planning
- Watershed meets with session organizers to finalize plans for their session, answer questions, and prepare for a full cohort orientation.
- All participating artists and Watershed staff take part in an online orientation.
- Full cohorts begin communicating online about travel plans, materials, etc.
Step 5: Residency
- Artists are in-residence! Summer Residency sessions run from late May through early September. All artists in each session live and work side-by-side, forming one community.
Fees & Financial Support
Residency fees and room and board fees are subsidized thanks to generous support from our donors. The total cost to support an artist at Watershed for a two-week residency session is more than $3900*. Watershed does not expect any artist to cover these full costs themselves. The donor-subsidized fee that invited artists cover is the combined total of the residency fee and the room and board fees listed below.
The organizer participates in the residency free-of-charge*. The fee waiver covers studio space, lodging in a double occupancy room, and meals. Watershed offers fully-funded residency spots to organizers because of the integral role they play in developing and hosting a successful session. Organizers partner with Watershed over the course of the year prior to the residency and during their time on campus by gathering and recruiting a diverse group of invited artists and anchoring the session, communicating with Watershed staff and the full session cohort prior to the residency, and facilitating an inclusive and meaningful experience for all participating artists during their session. Occasionally two artists share the organizer role as co-organizers. In this case, they each receive a 50% discount on their residency, double-occupancy room, and board fees at the invited artist rate.
Invited artists receive a 25% discount on their residency fee. Invitees pay for lodging and meals at the regular donor-subsidized rates, listed below, as well as materials and firing costs. Artists are required to live on campus during the residency.
Once a group’s proposal is accepted, Watershed is happy to provide a confirmation letter stating that they have been invited to take part in a residency. This can be helpful for artists who are exploring outside funding sources.
2024 Donor-Subsidized Fees
|Room & Board Fees|
|Double Occupancy Room/Shared Bath||$800 per person|
|Single Occupancy Room/Shared Bath||$1200|
|Double Occupancy Room/Private Bath||$1400 per person|
|Single Occupancy Room/Private Bath||$1700|
- Late October: $200 non-refundable deposit is due with registration
- April 15: Half of remaining balance due
- May 15: Remaining balance due for artists in Sessions I, II, and III
- June 15: Remaining balance due for artists in Sessions IV, V, and VI
Artists are responsible for travel costs to attend Watershed, as well as materials and firing costs, which typically range from $100-$250, depending on how much work an artist makes and fires.
Session organizers are responsible for replacing invitees who drop out. Watershed will work with session organizers to find replacement invitees, as needed. If the number of confirmed invitees drops below four and a replacement is not found, organizers no longer receive a discount and are responsible for covering their own session fees at the invitee rate. (This has never happened, as we work closely with organizers to help ensure that it won’t!)
Sample Session Themes
A wide range of session themes have generated successful residencies. Some themes focus on technical aspects of working in clay while others explore conceptual topics. A sampling of successful past session themes include:
- Using clay in socially-engaged practice
- Convening online collectives to work alongside one another in person
- Creating ephemeral work with raw clay
- Experimenting with firing techniques and surface treatments
- Responding to Watershed’s campus via site-specific work
- Exploring clay’s role in multidisciplinary practice
- Finding inspiration from the natural world
- Investigating artistic influence through shared exploration and collaboration
This list is by no means exhaustive. Watershed welcomes prospective applicants to contact us to discuss their theme idea.