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RWS Emerge-Megan Taitano-Bret Woodard Photography-DSC_3978.jpg


EMERGE 2024-25 One Page Flyer.jpg

The EMERGE AIR program aims to elevate and support artists who are in the emerging phase of their creative careers by providing 24/7 access to studio space, creative community, and related department tools and equipment, to thereby broaden and strengthen the greater creative community in Maine.


Application decisions will be made by a small panel of local professional artists with extensive knowledge in print or clay. The 2024-25 EMERGE Artist in Residence panelists include Martha Grover (ceramics), Jaime Wing (printmaking), and former EMERGE AIR in Clay Jenny Ibsen (ceramics and printmaking).


Important dates:

Application opens: March 1st

Info Session #1: March 6th

Info Session #2: March 21st

Deadline: April 30th

Notification: late May

Announcements: early June


There are two EMERGE sessions per year hosting a print and clay artist during each one.

Session 1: September 1, 2024 - January 31, 2025

Session 2: March 1, 2025 - July 31, 2025


EMERGE AIR have access to:

24/7 private studio space for five months

Department tools & equipment

Creative community

Members-only events

$250 stipend for materials

Professional photoshoot

Spotlight in the RWS newsletter

Opportunity to access additional departments

10% membership discount upon completion of the program


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Photo; 2024 Print AIR Megan Taitano,

Photo credit: Bret Woodard

Photo; 2024 Print AIR Jenny Ibsen,

Photo credit: Bret Woodard

2023 -24 Session 1 EMERGE Artists in Residence

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RWS Emerge-Megan Taitano-Bret Woodard Photography-DSC_3978.jpg


2023-24 EMERGE AIR; print

Megan Taitano is the current RWS EMERGE Artist in Residence in Print. Megan grew up in Guam and didn’t know what printmaking was until she got to college. She immediately fell in love with the process and graduated from MECA&D in 2016 with a BFA in Printmaking.


Megan struggled to continue her practice after graduation because she was burnt out from her thesis project. Her thesis’s focus was on Guam’s culture and its relationship to being a mostly unknown part of America and the erasure of Guamanian culture. The project was a 10' x 10' woven hanging piece made from multiple varied collagraph prints of textures that represented the ocean in which she wove in etchings of myths, stories, and ideas as well as silk screened tropical fish. One such etching used in her thesis, called Island Eater, depicted the myth of the giant parrot fish that nibbled the island into its shape during a famine in which the women of the island wove a net out of their hair to catch the giant fish and feed the people, ending the famine. 

Upon graduation, Megan received a scholarship that granted her access to a press for a few months, an opportunity she feels she wasn’t able to fully take advantage of while making the transition from student to working artist, starting a new job and moving. At the time she had a lot of anxiety around making a living as an artist and it manifested as a creative block. By chance, Megan ended up at a dog daycare and started making pet portraits. From there her practice grew and she started getting back into bookmaking, making blank journals for others to use and enjoy, which is a repetitive process that doesn’t take up a lot of mental space. Megan is aware she puts too much pressure on herself to make something ‘worthwhile’, but pet portraits and bookmaking have kept her in a regular artistic practice because she is able to work in these mediums without imposing expectations on herself. It doesn’t take Megan long to complete these projects and the feeling of accomplishment motivates her to keep working.


In her bookmaking practice, Megan experiments with different stitches and uses upcycled materials. She’s always finding unique papers with a variety of textures like wallpaper samples of leopards standing on top of each other or weird bird scenes in different colors. She has started using her old misprints too and working this way has inspired her to get back into printmaking. She recently made a relief print–the printing technique in which a surface is cut away creating a raised image that is then inked and transferred to another surface–of a couple of hounds she got to know and love at the dog daycare. 

The EMERGE residency has provided Megan a space to play and experiment in her printmaking. She is grateful to have access to an etching press and loves that she can explore endless ideas through variations of color and texture and make multiples without losing her original sketch. The process of changing the plate, making marks, and trying new things to develop a print makes her happy. She may eventually lose the plate in the process, but finds joy in working the plate until it’s gone. Right now she is focusing on creating marbled etchings and using oil pastels as stop out for their soft mottled effect. She uses Baldwin Ink Ground and mixes it with lavender oil in a water bath to create the marbling that will become the backgrounds of her etchings. She likes this process for the lack of control she has over the design and because it is an exercise in pareidolia as she looks for faces in the blotches. She looks for these faces in stains and woodgrains as well and creates what she calls ‘doodle creatures’ out of the patterns she finds. This is an important part of her process because she likes to use her prints as her sketchbook and work with the image rather than starting with a sketch and a plan.

Megan gets inspired while walking her dog, looking for random marks, and searching for patterns on ceilings or down on the ground. She says, “Everything is an accumulation of marks over time.” She also finds a lot of dead animals on her walks with her dog and after a while the remains become more interesting. She finds the transition odd, and the next etching she plans to work on is inspired by a bird she found in a crosswalk, “The only way to tell it’s a bird is because of the beak and a claw; everything else was a jumbled mess, deteriorating each time a car went by.” She doesn’t know what this will lead to but she wants to see where it goes. Animals will always be a source of inspiration for her. 


Meet Megan at the farmers market in Deering Oaks on Saturdays when it's not raining, as well as the first annual Main Street Market at Thornton Academy on November 19, 2023 from 9a.m. to 3p.m. Her books will also be available at the annual Holly Berry Arts & Crafts Fair on Sunday November 26, 2023 from 9a.m. - 3p.m. in Naples, Maine. She will also be at Two Sisters in Maine, a pop-up shop at 124 Main Street in Freeport on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and weekends, November 1 - December 31, 2023 from 10a.m. - 6p.m. She also pops up wherever there’s space during First Friday Art Walk in Portland. Find Megan on Instagram @landlesscraft and through her website

Images provided by Bret Woodard.

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2023-24 EMERGE AIR; ceramics

Jenny Ibsen is the current RWS EMERGE Artist in Residence in Clay. Though she mostly works in clay Jenny has a background as a printmaker and hosts Fish Picnic, a series of community dinners that combine food and performance. She was a member at RWS in 2019 as a print associate and recently rejoined as a clay associate prior to being selected for the EMERGE program. 


Much of Jenny’s work is inspired by living in Maine. She loves it here and is grateful for the access to space and food and the ocean. She is also grateful to art institutions that are able to make their spaces available to artists through residencies. Jenny didn’t go to art school and wasn’t an art major but took a lot of art classes while earning her degree at Bowdoin College. She’s always been very crafty and started printmaking in 2015 and has kept with it pretty seriously. Jenny makes risograph prints using a machine that she describes as a combination of a large copy machine and a more-analog silkscreen. Risograph prints have an iconic look that uses a lot of overlapping fluorescent tones. 


Jenny continued making prints casually after graduation, working out of a studio in Fort Andross in Brunswick, Maine, hand inking and printing her wood and linocut prints. When she joined RWS she was happy to have access to a press bed, but

found that it didn’t make sense for her economically at the time and decided to continue making prints by hand. It was easy to reproduce an image and sold her prints through Instagram and at markets. Jenny eventually got tired of storing prints in flat files and started working in another medium. 

Clay still feels very new to Jenny and she finds it exciting. She took her first clay class when she was living in Arizona during the pandemic, doing a work trade cleaning a studio and loading kilns and mixing glazes in exchange for throwing classes. She didn’t like throwing on the wheel and started hand building instead. Jenny joined Portland Pottery in February of 2022 after moving back to Maine and has seen her practice shift in the past year and a half. “I feel like inside I’m a printmaker, but printmaking is an interdisciplinary way of thinking,” she thinks about the layer building and components of adding and subtracting to create an image and the duplication of things as printmaking qualities that exist in both media. There’s a printmaking sensibility to Jenny’s clay work; in ceramics it’s building up color and layers and replicating forms multiple times.

Jenny’s clay process is similar to relief carving--mapping the image using negative and positive spaces--and in clay the work has a functional aspect. She likes how it is more tactile and more durable. She uses terracotta, a low-fire clay because she learned ceramics using terracotta and appreciates how the clay body stays the same color when it's fired. Her work is color based and she appreciates the reliability. She also likes having dark orange as the neutral tone, “It’s interesting to think of a brown as how people would think of a white in a context larger than ceramics.” The color also serves as a contrast against the glaze colors she uses. 


Jenny is currently working through firing at different temperatures and glazing. Eventually, she would like to start making her own glazes because she wants more vibrant colors without having to use commercial clear glaze. She uses clear glaze selectively, leaving some parts with a matte finish. Glaze is a necessity in order for ceramics to be functional because it helps make them food safe. Clay can be porous, which is an opportunity for things like mold and bacteria to grow. Jenny also works at Onggi, a fermentation market in Portland; culturally there are ceramics that are unglazed, such as fermentation weights and vessels that Onggi uses for fermentation, where letting air in and out is beneficial for what they are trying to accomplish. 


The imagery in Jenny’s work is very playful and full of movement and life. Her carvings are a spontaneous process and each image is created on the vessel. She calls her first large vase series ‘Invasives’ that depict edible species invasive to Maine. One piece, called ‘Pest Picnic’ is full of slugs and Japanese Knotweed. In another, seagulls are stealing sandwiches. Her latest series is of bunnies inspired by the Lunar New Year being the year of the water rabbit. This is the first series Jenny has made that depicts a recurring animal. Chartreuse is a recurring color in her work and is another layer of unification between subject matter. The imagery in her prints was very different, often depicting a scene based on a full environment framed by hands doing something, “I like that motif of having a hand present in the work. I feel the hand is implied in the ceramics; you can see everything is very handmade.” The hands signify a moment of labor. Each of Jenny’s ceramic pieces is time intensive and one of a kind. In both mediums Jenny feels that art doesn’t need to be precious. 

Her ceramic work has a direct connection to her love of food, sharing food and using it as a means to create community. Jenny started the meal ‘Fish Picnic’ when she received a residency through Gabriel Chalfin-Piney who had received a Kindling Fund last summer and regranted some of the money to Jenny to host a food event. She has since received the Kindling Fund herself (2023) and additional funding and has now hosted three Fish Picnics. They are all free public meals that are site specific and take place outdoors in Maine near the ocean. All of the food is plated directly onto the tablecloth that runs down a banquet-style table. Jenny has started opening the meal with a plating ceremony so that everyone gets to help plate the food, “It’s a nice way to prepare the meal together even though I’m preparing the food.” People feel it’s a creative release to see how the meal unfolds and it is an intentional way to meet new people. For Jenny, Fish Picnic is a vessel that can carry people and create a moment that’s shared. Fish Picnic has been so well received it has grown into something bigger than one person can manage. 


Jenny is currently seeking grant funding for Fish Picnic. For more information and to support the meals, contact her directly. 

Jenny will be at the RWS Holiday Market, December 8-10, 2023. Contact her through her website, or through Instagram @jennyib.

Images provided by Bret Woodard.


Read past interviews with EMERGE Alumni

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