History of the Program
Ms. Jane Blaffer Owen, the daughter of Robert Lee Blaffer and Sarah Campbell Blaffer, was a firm believer in the ceramic arts. “In the mid-1950s, to channel her philanthropic efforts and to honor her late father, she established the Robert Lee Blaffer Foundation. Grants from the Foundation were to be used to preserve and promote the town's historical and educational attributes.” The clay studio was constructed in 1985.
In 2015, the Blaffer Foundation requested proposals for programming that utilized the ceramics studio facilities. Lenny Dowhie, Professor Emeritus at University of Southern Indiana (USI), developed and proposed a residency program that gave ceramic artists access to an immersive experience that could truly expand their creative ideas by eliminating any associated program fees, the typical concerns for work/life balance and the need for general sustaining income. This allows time for residents to fully commit to a serious focus on the development and execution of their ideas. In addition, Dowhie’s idea was to give the opportunity to artists who may have not had the fortune of attending a well-recognized college or university for ceramics or may not have well-established connections within the ceramics community. His goal is to provide these artists with the chance to learn and develop in order to pursue a career as a successful studio artist.
WHAT WE PROVIDE
Studio space for up to four (4) artists at a time and reasonable materials commonly used when working with clay.
Monthly stipend to help offset costs incurred by the artist(s).
Housing with a private room and shared bathroom for the duration of the residency period.
The residency is open to any age over 18. It is designed for emerging and professional artists in a critical stage of their career who would benefit from this concentrated time focusing on their work. Residents must hold at least a B.F.A. or a combination of a B.A./B.S. and several years of professional experience. Individuals will need to commit to working full-time hours in the studio for the selected time period of the residency.
This residency is a laboratory for artists to experiment; to collect and test ideas and make choices that will enable them to explore and "fail," as well as create new works. We firmly believe, from a philosophical position, that our studio and artistic experience does not compete with those clay artists/craftspeople who are working full time as studio artists. In other words, we don't want to have our program/artists put undue pressure on others who work without the support a residency provides; therefore, we emphasize and encourage exploration that will create new directions for the future.
Residents are required to be full-time artists while in residence, working at least 40 hours or more in the studio each week. In addition to this, the residents who select a period of time for more than 1 month are required to host a public community event during their time, whether a studio visit, workshop or artist lecture. Resident artists are required to leave work(s) behind for the permanent collection of the Robert Lee Blaffer Foundation. Works for the collection will selected in consultation with the staff and administrators of the NHCP. Additionally, artists should also be prepared to provide work for the annual NHCP Residency Exhibition which features a retrospective of all the work of the year’s residents.
Artists work independently, setting their own goals and studio hours for the residency. Our artists are truly committed to their studio research, and we want to create an environment of support, encouragement and creative energy. This is the core belief of our residency. We aim for a total-immersion experience. Therefore, we not only provide artists with an environment to execute their ideas, but the basic needs like reasonable tools and materials for creating their artwork, firings, housing, and a monthly stipend from which you can spend towards meals, transportation and other living expenses.
Residents are selected through a competitive process that includes applications from all around the globe. The selection of the residents is based on the quality of the work clearly defined goals and the timeliness and completeness of their application.
The cost of travel to and from the rural town of New Harmony, as well as transportation around the region, are the resident’s responsibility. For some perspective, the Evansville Regional Airport is 38 miles from New Harmony, about a 45 minute drive. Numerous car rental companies are available in Evansville area.
In addition, residents are also responsible for their meals. New Harmony has several restaurants within walking distance of the studio and housing. (For a complete list of local restaurants, see the listings on the Visit New Harmony website.) There are no full grocery stores in New Harmony; however there are small convenience stores that are walking/cycling distance from the studio. The closest full service markets are in Mt. Vernon, IN (15 miles) or Evansville, IN (26 miles).
Housing of the NHCP is provided and is furnished with furniture, internet, bedding, towels, kitchen appliances, dinnerware and some kitchen cookware and utensils. The studio is equipped with a compact washer and dryer that is for the exclusive use of resident artists.
Basic pottery tool kits, carving tools, manual and power tools are available in the studio, but each artist is encouraged to bring a small selection of the tools relevant to their studio practice. Otherwise, we will work with each artist to see that you are provided with the basic needs for your creative work. (See Studio Equipment for more information on the studio set up.)
The facilities at the New Harmony Clay Project are sponsored by the Robert Lee Blaffer Foundation and dedicated to the philosophy and quest for quality of Sarah Campbell Blaffer, the wife of Robert Lee Blaffer. Sarah believed that the "creative crafts deserve the instruction, support and honor accorded the fine arts." The studio has an open door policy, which welcomes community residents, students from local universities or other visitors both informally and formally.
The building is designed by American abstract artist and architect, Richard Meier and houses the following equipment:
- 8 Pottery Wheels
- Two Vented Electric Kilns and a Test Kiln
- Three Gas Kilns including a Salt Kiln and Raku Kiln
- A Brent Slab Roller
- Two Clay Mixers (Soldner and BlueBird)
- Axner Deairing Pugmill
- Stocked Chemical and Clay Mixing Rooms
- Photo Documentation Room
- A 10 gallon Lehman Slip Mixer
- Compressor, spray guns and safety equipment
- An assortment of raw materials for residents use including Gold & Red Art clays, Kaolins, Fireclays, Feldspars, Frits, Oxides and normal glaze pantry items.
NHCP studio is situated between an architectural monument: the Roofless Church, and the David Lenz house, which provides an example of a Harmonist single-family frame dwelling. The back doors of our facilities open up to the woods that line the Wabash River. Winding through the woods are hiking trails and prominent wildlife, such as bald eagles, coyotes, deer, and raccoons to name a few.
Click on The right side of the Images below to view Our Studio.
Many thanks to our photographer, Marc Chevalier, for his unique visual perspective of our facilities and the wonderful images scattered throughout our website.
Our artist housing and studio space are kindly sponsored by the Robert Lee Blaffer Foundation. Artists will either be housed in the "Gate House," with overflow in the "Mother Superior House" or the "Poet's House". Artists will have a private room when available and will share one of the two bathrooms, kitchen, patios and living and study rooms.
Sponsorship and Support
As a sister organization of the New Harmony Artists Guild, a 501(c)3 organization, the NHCP is able to fulfil its mission, vision and support of our resident artists through generous contributions by the following Foundation supporters and individuals:
- The Efroymson Family Fund
- The Greater Houston Foundation
- Lenny and Anne Dowhie Trusts
- The Robert Lee Blaffer Foundation
- New Harmony Artists Guild
New Harmony Clay Project is also a member of the Alliance of Artist Communities.
During the residency, you will live in the rural, historic village of New Harmony, which presents a unique opportunity for all artists. Home to two utopia experiments and a contemporary population of 800, you will find an intriguing mix of history and modern art and a burgeoning artistic environment. Alongside the New Harmony Clay Project, the creativity of musicians, writers, performers, craftsmen and artists working in textiles, wood, fine art, ceramics, among other media and materials make up organizations like the following:
- New Harmony Artist Guild
- Hoosier Salon
- NH Gallery of Contemporary Art
- Under the Beams Concert Series
- Writer’s Guild
- New Harmony Music Festival and School
- New Harmony Theater
- Concerts at Sara’s Harmony Way
- “Stage Left” Concerts at Events of Harmony
The local library, the Working Men’s Institute Museum and Library, can fulfill basic printing and research needs. For more information on New Harmony, visit our About page.