The Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts and The Color Network are partnering for a second year to offer an artist residency focused on building mentor-mentee relationships among clay artists of color.
This summer, 16 artists who are part of The Color Network’s mentorship program will come together in person for a two-week residency at the 54-acre Watershed campus in Edgecomb. The session will be funded in part by a $35,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
The Color Network supports artists of color by providing resources, exposure and professional development opportunities. An important facet of their work focuses on building mentorship networks among experienced and emerging ceramicists. With The Color Network’s mentors and mentees scattered across the country, most of their connections take place online. While The Color Network considered ways to bring mentorship participants together face-to-face, Watershed’s open-ended residency structure offered a natural solution. The center’s short-term sessions foster community building and creative practice while providing artists with the space and freedom to use their time together as they wish.
“As a student and educator, I have often been the only person of color in the room. In these situations, I feel both invisible and hyper-visible,” said Magdolene Dykstra, steering committee member of the Color Network.”The Color Network provides a space for color creatives to be seen and seen in an uplifting space. The residency at Watershed is a crucial opportunity to be, create and think side-by-side in person, unlike our increasingly virtual interactions.
Last summer, 11 members of The Color Network gathered at Watershed for the group’s inaugural mentorship residency. While the mentor-mentee pairs had already bonded with each other online, the majority of the group arrived as strangers. During their three weeks together, the artists spent long hours in the studio while progressing with their work. Simultaneously, their conversations and collaborations engendered a comfortable ease that animated their practices and relationships.
“The residency has been life changing,” said Corrin Grooms, Fellow and 2021 Artist in Residence. “I learned more in three weeks than in a semester at school. I’m on a better path in my artistic career thanks to the advice I received not only from my mentor, but from all mentors.
Like many art centers, Watershed’s programs are funded through a mix of donor support, grants, and direct fees paid by participants. The National Endowment for the Arts’ Grants for Arts Projects award will cover the cost of each Color Network artist’s residency.
“The award helps remove financial barriers to participation,” said Watershed Executive Director Fran Rudoff. “Watershed and The Color Network agreed that the cost should not deter anyone from attending the session. We are pleased that the (National Endowment for the Arts) recognizes the importance of this experience and has provided a second year of funding.
“This is some of the most radical programming I’ve ever been on,” said 2021 Color Network artist-in-residence Gerald Brown. “So many artists of color struggle with money that they can never be completely immersed in a space. But when you remove that barrier, you tell them they’re enough as is. Imagine what a generation of cohorts of mentorship residencies and what a huge impact that would have on the field of ceramics.
National Endowment for the Arts grants for arts projects reach communities in all parts of the country, large and small, from diverse cultural and economic backgrounds. In 2022, 1,248 organizations are recommended to receive grants totaling more than $28 million.
In addition to time spent on studio projects and mentorship work, The Color Network and Watershed will host a summer exhibition showcasing the work of Color Network’s mentor-mentee residency cohort from last year. Resident artists can also live stream artist talks, demonstrations and conversations for their wider community and the public.
For more information about The Color Network, visit thecolornetwork.org.
For more information on Watershed’s programs, visit watershedceramics.org.