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July 13, 2018
By Grace Niemeyer, communication assistant
Northwest Missouri State University faculty member Veronica Watkins has completed a five-week residency at the Clay Studio in Missoula, Montana.
Established in 2003, the Clay Studio is a nonprofit community ceramic arts center that hosts residencies designed to encourage the creative, intellectual and personal growth of emerging and established visual artists. Studio residencies provide a place for artists to pursue focused work while gaining technical skills and teaching experience.
“It is one of several outstanding clay centers in Montana, known for hosting fantastic ceramic artists as well as top-notch exhibits,” Watkins, an adjunct faculty member in Northwest’s Department of Fine and Performing Arts, said. “The clay community in Montana is strong and tight-knit and also integrally connected with academia.”
The competitive application process includes sending a proposal, credentials, references and portfolio images. Selections are based on the quality of work, its artistic merit and the diversity of the prospective group in terms of work, background and stage of career development.
The program allows for concentrated work time and is a safe space for taking creative risks.
“The other large component of a residency is building relationships and collaborating with other extremely talented and established artists,” Watkins said. “It has been great to discuss issues in my field, share ideas and just get to know other people that I have so much in common with. This is a wonderful way to recharge and get inspired as an artist and teacher.”
Watkins said artists at the studio work hard, and she called the energy there “contagious.”
“I will be bringing that home with me and will also have lots to share with students about my journey out west and the tales of the people I’ve met,” she said. “Our students should be considering applying for residencies as well, and I can share my experience with them while encouraging them to do the same. It is a great time for growth.”
Watkins worked long days but also found time to explore Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota. She visited the Badlands, Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, Flathead Lake, Glacier National Park and the National Bison Range.
Throughout the residency, Watkins stayed at the home of respected artist Julia Galloway.
“I have seen her lecture and give workshops over the years many times and she is really one of the contemporary greats of my field, being noted for significant contributions like ‘Field Guide for Ceramic Artisans,’ which is one of the most important recent resources for anyone working or teaching in clay,” Watkins said. “She has a collection of ceramic objects in her home that keeps me captivated for hours. We have had many conversations that I will treasure and keep in my memory for years to come.”
Watkins has taught at Northwest for 15 years including courses in art appreciation, drawing, introduction to design and ceramics. Previously, she taught at Peru State College in Nebraska and Southwestern Community College in Iowa. She obtained her bachelor’s degree from Northwest in 1996 with a focus in ceramics, jewelry and fibers; she earned a master’s degree from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale in 2000 with a ceramics concentration.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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