NEWCASTLE, Maine—Every summer, ceramic artists from around the world make their way to a secluded valley in coastal Maine and join a community that encourages exploration, experimentation, and exchange of ideas. Nestled among farm fields and pine forests, Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts is a creative mecca off the beaten path. The Center offers short-term residencies that provide clay artists with time and space to reflect, create, and innovate.
Featured image: 2017 Watershed artist-in-residence Kelly Donahue
Watershed’s 2018 residency season includes sessions that will resonate with a wide variety of artists, from functional makers to sculptors. Cross-disciplinary work will take center stage during a session spearheaded by Emily Weiner and Fawn Krieger, while Liz Quackenbush, Mary Barringer, and Robbie Lobell anchor a group with plans to explore women’s history in ceramics. For those interested in functional making, the season’s inaugural session focuses on developing marketing strategies and will include a guest artist talk by Ayumi Horie. Artists who are comfortable working independently in a clay studio may register to join any session.
During each session, fifteen artists spend about two weeks living and working alongside one another. The only schedule to follow is meal times (and it’s worth showing up for the delicious farm-to-table food). Participants structure the rest of the day as they choose. While many burn the midnight oil in the studios, others take time to recharge their creative batteries while exploring woodland paths or basking in fields dotted with sheep.
“It was wonderful to have so much open-ended time to work,” explains Watershed alum Amelia Lockwood. “I came in without expectations and was blown away by the people, the environment, and how much my work grew.”
Because Watershed has no formal requirements, artists work alongside one another without a hierarchy. No one formally teaches, but everyone learns from each other. During a session, you can find ceramic masters like Jack Troy and Matt Wedel working alongside emerging artists, discussing everything from theory and technique to where to find the best Maine swimming spots.
“The residency provides a rare opportunity for ceramists to connect without any expectations or requirements. The premise is that everyone has something to offer,” explains Executive Director Fran Rudoff. “Time and again, artists tell us ‘this experience changed my life!’”
“I came in with a loose sketch and left Watershed with 6 pieces,” shares artist April Felipe “I can’t make 6 pieces at home in two weeks! During a session, you feed off the energy of other artists and lack of distraction, and the enjoyment of not wanting to leave the studio.”
In addition to five summer sessions, Watershed offers a four-week fall residency for those interested in more time to develop a body of work. For both programs, Watershed provides financial assistance via work exchanges and merit scholarships. Applications for summer aid are accepted annually until February 15. General registrations are accepted on a first come, first served basis.
For more information, visit Watershed’s website at www.WatershedCeramics.org or call (207) 882-6075.
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