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RWS Emerge-Megan Taitano-Bret Woodard Photography-DSC_3978.jpg
RWS Emerge-Jenny Ibsen-Bret Woodard Photography-DSC_3894.jpg

EMERGE Artist in Residency

The ACCESS Fund recognizes three paths of need: 1) emerging print and clay artists, 2) RWS member artists working in any medium needing assistance to revive their practice due to health, or other emergency situations, and 3) established artists working in any medium who are ready to grow their body of work

The EMERGE Artist in Residency is the first level of scholarship.​ EMERGE seeks to elevate and support recent graduates or those with advanced experience or training with a focus in either printmaking or ceramics by providing access to the RWS studios as well as the respective department’s equipment and community. 


The program has two sessions each year.

Session 1 - September 1st, 23 - January 30, 24

Session 2 - March 1, 23 - July 30, 24

RWS will host one to two artists per cycle (up to four artists per year). 

2023 -24 Session 1 EMERGE Artists in Residence

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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.

2023 Winter EMERGE Artists in Residence

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Ian Colwell
Winter 2023 EMERGE AIR; print

Ian is an incoming artist-in-residence as a part of the RWS Emerge program for the second session of its inaugural year. Ian primarily works in printmaking and has been using digital programs like Procreate and Adobe Photoshop to replicate some of the work that they usually make in the absence of access to a studio equipped with traditional printmaking tools and equipment, “I find that with working digitally, the tablet and stylus has the opportunity to replicate what you find in print, however, I miss the components of what can happen when you put a monotype through a press–you can see all those different layers of colors and modify transparencies physically instead of on a screen. I miss the adventitious nature of print.”


They fell in love with MECA&D over six years ago when a representative visited Ian’s high school. While earning their degree they explored majors in painting and ceramics before falling in love with printmaking at the last minute, “I felt as a printmaker I could not only paint and sculpt, I could do many multifaceted things within my practice.” Ian loves the backwards and forwards thinking process required in printmaking. They graduated from MECA&D in 2020 and now works as an Admissions Counselor, giving presentations about the Bachelors of Fine Arts program in high schools across New England.


Typical postgraduate growing pains have been heightened by the pandemic; Ian took a year-long break from printmaking to allow time to mourn their senior year. Inspiration and income were a challenge during this time and it was hard for Ian to be motivated to get to the studio. Ian took a step back to focus on the small things in their day to day, taking videos of themselves brewing coffee or photos of things like a crack in the pavement on their way to work. These small moments built up enough inspiration for Ian to pick up a tablet and start recreating the works they were making in a studio setting on a digital lens. The format lacks printmaking details like how the oil sits on different parts of the paper or the sheen of the graphite on different layers, but it’s been a great way for Ian to create studies and get back in the mindset of making art. Ian recently completed a two-month fellowship at Pickwick Independent Press, funded by a professional artist grant from MECA&D awarded to current students and alumni.


Ian looks forward to experimenting and playing in the studios at RWS, to silencing the inner critic, and working in a non-academic art space. They’re not taking themselves too seriously, like they did in college, and look forward to experimenting with monoprinting, bringing with them a new love of zines, risographs, and printed ephemera. They plan to make more sculptural based forms while in residence. The content of this series will explore Ian’s experience as a non-binary artist operating in a binary world, “The objective is not for people to understand what that feels like, but to build enough confidence to take up space in a world that doesn’t have a lot of representation of non-binary or gender non-conforming artists.” The work’s purpose is to give Ian agency, take up physical space, and create ‘representation monuments’ that function as portraits. The portraits will take on a sculptural form with printed material applied to wooden structures.


Ian hopes to have a collection of work at the end of the residency to show at a gallery and use for residency and fellowship applications. Ian is looking forward to making art again and hopes to be a practicing member of the RWS print department at the conclusion of the program.


To learn more about Ian’s work and process, contact them via email at or on Instagram (@print_jock).

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Joe Holtzman
Winter 2023 EMERGE AIR; ceramics

Joe will be joining RWS as an Emerge program ceramic artist this winter. He is a recent graduate of MECA and currently works production at Georgetown Pottery.


Joe fell in love with clay when he was nine years old ad his parents gave him modeling clay on a long car ride. He made a figure that he carried around and played with like an action figure and after that trip he started carrying modeling clay with him wherever he went. He made miniature people, snails, turtles, and hands. Even now, when gets dressed in the morning he makes sure he has his phone, wallet, watch, and modeling clay.


Although he took many art classes with his mom as a kid it wasn’t until high school that Joe was introduced to ceramics. He had an excellent ceramics teacher and took the class six times in four years. Joe knew he wanted to go to a liberal arts college so he could keep playing with clay and ended up at Bennington where he learned from a professor who was a student of Peter Voulkos. He didn’t take much from this experience at the time, but it an impression on him and his work.


Feeling he was being pushed toward academics when he wanted to focus on the arts, Joe took time off from school and moved to North Carolina where he worked for a potter for about a year. He ended up doing a lot of grunt work but says that it felt right. He stayed a couple of months longer, throwing production work for others and returned to school when he realized that residencies require more formal training and experience. He made a day trip up to Portland and was impressed with MECA’s range of kilns and equipment and liked that art majors had their own studios, so he put in an application and was accepted almost immediately. Joe graduated from MECA earlier this year and named his central thesis piece after Voulkos.


Joe scaled up his work during his studies and found his voice when he took a free choice assignment and threw pots and built them together. Working this way, using the wheel as a tool and building larger pieces, really hooked him. He continued pursuing this idea the following year and then the work changed from sculptures back into fully formed pots that he would cut up and build into abstract vessels. Making symmetrical, well-constructed pieces satisfied his ‘potter’s brain’ while the spontaneity of building abstract sculptures fulfilled his creative drive.


Joe has since jumped back into production work; he pours plaster, casts in porcelain, makes clay, and trims and sprays pieces. He recently started throwing for Georgetown Pottery as well, which includes making fifty shapes of someone else’s design. He is satisfied with his job, but it has a different feel from creating for oneself, and it’s physically demanding with a tight schedule–they fire a packed kiln each week.


He still likes to throw some of his favorite forms from his earlier work, including a mug, soup mug, and a bowl. Originally, these forms weren’t intentional; when he started out they were dictated by the weight of the lump of clay–one pound of clay became mugs and two pounds of clay became bowls–and these are the forms he still makes are the shapes that came out well. The original pieces don’t have all the technical qualities of a trained ceramicist, but even now he views them as real, finished pieces. Now he has the training to emulate those shapes with better forms. Joe hopes to continue working with some of these earlier ideas while in residence at RWS. He plans to scale them down to make the pieces more accessible and functional.


Joe’s work is available for purchase at CIA Cafe in SoPo and Needfire Apothecary on Fore Street. He was invited to be included in these shops by being in front of MECA&D during every First Friday Art Walk. Contact Joe via email at

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Meet the innagural Summer 2022 EMERGE AIR & the Winter 2023 EMERGE AIR here.

2022 Summer EMERGE Artists in Residence

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Rachael Murphy
Summer 2022 AIR; print

Massachusetts College of Art and Design & University of Maine Orono '22. 

BA in Art Education, minor in Art History, and a BFA in Studio Art with concentrations in printmaking and painting. 


Murphy primarily works in large-scale woodcut prints but enjoys exploring other media when an opportunity or inspiration presents itself.

Murphy aspires to establish a broader understanding of the art world through multiple degrees of study and professional opportunities. She has four years of experience researching and framing artwork through a seasonal position with Liros Gallery, in Blue Hill, Maine. The artist also worked as a curatorial intern with the Zillman Art Museum during her undergraduate studies. She is also actively assisting with an ongoing, large-scale collection management project for active artist Harold Garde. These experiences exposed Murphy to a diverse group of artists, past and active, who use both two-dimensional and three-dimensional media.

Murphy’s artwork oscillates between realistic imagery and abstraction. The artist brings intricate beauty to subjects that appear ordinary or mundane. Her artwork is a vehicle for processing personal interactions with the world, simultaneously layered with broader issues and themes. She is currently focusing on a series of large-scale woodcut prints that address environmental issues and wildlife conservation in Maine ecosystems. 

The artist recently exhibited in the University of Maine’s Annual Student Exhibition where her woodcuts received multiple awards including Best in Show. Her prints were also featured in the 2022 issue of Spire: Maine Journal of Conservation and Sustainability.

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Ryder Kallweit

Summer 2022 AIR; ceramics

University of Southern Maine '22

Studio Art; Entreprenuership


Kallweit, a recent graduate of the University of Southern Maine, received a BA in Studio Art with a concentration in Entrepreneurship.

His studio education has focused on ceramics, but they also create photos, digital designs, prints, and music. Inspired by graphic art, hip-hop, world history, mind puzzles, sci-fi movies, the fragility of existence, and sensational food they tend to make utilitarian pieces with relating wall art, but would like to explore more sculptural art with clay. Kallweit also wants to develop pattern work on dishware and create wall pieces that complement the dish sets.


During his senior year, he received a disciplinary award for artistic growth in ceramics and has plans to carry the same prolific sense to the EMERGE artist in residency.

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