In collaboration with The Color Network (TCN), Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts presents Project M, an exhibition of work by nine artists who took part in TCN’s 2021 residency at Watershed. The show features pieces by Isolina Minjeong Alva, Natalia Arbelaez, Adam Chau, April D. Felipe, Corrin Grooms, Salvador Jiménez-Flores, Sana Musasama, Alex Paat, and Isaac Scott.
The Color Network’s mission is to aid in the advancement of people of color in the ceramic arts. They offer opportunities for artists to connect with one another and have established a mentorship program that pairs emerging ceramists with more experienced artists working in clay. With the lion’s share of mentors and mentees interacting online, TCN’s steering committee envisioned bringing artists together in person for an extended period. Several committee members had previously taken part in residencies at Watershed and considered the open-concept studio, supportive program model, and 54-acre campus an ideal setting to gather and make work. Over the course of several years, TCN and Watershed collaborated to organize, secure funding for, and subsequently host a residency to strengthen TCN’s mentor-mentee relationships. Last June, eleven participating artists spent three weeks on Watershed’s campus making work, enjoying family-style meals, and exploring Midcoast Maine.
Project M grew from a desire on the part of both TCN and Watershed to showcase the mentorship participants’ wide array of work. The exhibition offers an opportunity to consider how time spent together influenced the artists and draws attention to their broad scope of creative approaches, interests, and histories.
In some of the more playful pieces, artists add their own take on traditional techniques and narratives. Natalia Arbelaez’s Mayu Chimpay Iskay finds inspiration in the ancient Moche portrait vessels of Peru, while Alex Paat’s Burnay offers a personal and contemporary interpretation of traditional fermentation jars made and used in Paat’s grandmother’s hometown of Vigan, Philippines.
Other works explore the artists’ responses to racial oppression and injustice. Corrin Grooms’ piece from her Bothered series depicts a face with a mildly furrowed brow, which she describes as a mask that serves as a meditation on her deep emotional response to the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other Black Americans at the hands of police. The intricate surface of Isaac Scott’s Untitled (Column) depicts bullets, shell casings, and brick fragments in disarray.
Scott explains, “Living in North Philadelphia, dilapidated infrastructure, gun violence, and a constant police presence are embedded in everyday life. Through ceramic sculpture and vessels, I comment on how this environment in the black and brown community collects on us, and on the resilient spirit in the people who call this place home.”
This May, a second TCN mentorship residency brought sixteen new artists to Watershed for two weeks. The 2021 and 2022 residency sessions and Project M received grant funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.
The exhibition is on view through Aug. 25 in Watershed’s Barkan Gallery at 103 Cochran Road in Edgecomb. Gallery hours are Tuesday-Thursday from 2 to 4:30 p.m. and by appointment. Visitors can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the administrative office at (207) 882-6075 to arrange a viewing outside of regular hours.