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.