Incubation: Artists in Pursuit of Discovery

Incubation: Artists in Pursuit of Discovery showcases the work of a selection of our studio assistants from over the last ten years. Peters Valley Summer Assistants are an integral part of our summer workshop program and we’ve seen how, at times, the studio experience is like an incubation experience. This show focuses on where they are now, and the new directions they’ve taken since leaving Peters Valley.


If you missed our Virtual Artist Reception to celebrate the participating artists and their pieces in this exhibition, you can still learn what's behind their work. Watch here.

If you missed our Panel Discussion you can watch it here.
On Aug. 16th Ceramics Head Bruce Dehnert led a dynamic and engaging discussion with five former studio assistants about the profound impact the Peters Valley Studio Assistantship has had on these artists' personal and professional lives, and what it's like to be an artist in the current climate.


Exhibition Catalog Preview



"Literally speaking, one of the definitions of incubation is the process of sitting on an egg to keep it warm and protected, until the precious fecund object fully develops. Ideas benefit from pause, nurture, and the opportunity for reflection and iterating in order to fully form. For artists, the incubation of ideas to develop a fully realized work of art or craft object requires a serious commitment to development, and to becoming. One must embrace curiosity and tenacity to develop technical, manual, and design skills, a visual vocabulary, and personal aesthetic voice.

The summer studio assistant program is like no other in the world. Each year, applicants are chosen based on their skills, merits, and mindset and invited to live on campus in shared housing to work in a specific studio. They take on the responsibility of maintaining the studio tools and facilitating a successful learning experience for the visiting teaching artists and workshop students. For up to eighteen weeks, they learn from a new instructor each week about collaboration, classroom management, technical skills, and creative approaches, about safety, and about how people develop their ‘own voice’ and a unique body of work. They work hard and they learn deeply during this intense experience in which there is so much activity and information exchanged. It often takes years for what has been learned to emerge in the individual artist’s work.

Over the past eleven summers I have met these young artists, watched them learn to speak about their work, collaborate with one another, and experiment with new materials and techniques.

When our summer assistants arrive, they are most often in the middle or end of their undergraduate journey, or they have chosen a path of apprenticeship to learn their craft. They are full of ideas moving through their brains and hands like fireworks of inspiration (sometimes quite overwhelming), while navigating intense person-to-person interactions. The conversation, the questioning, the intake and output of ideas loads them up with information that will potentially be referenced throughout the rest of their lives.

The reward for the staff and I at Peters Valley is the process of watching their talents develop and each individual artist emerge. The artists featured in this exhibition have gone on to attend graduate programs and residencies, started their own businesses, and become entrepreneurs and arts administrators. When they come to us later asking for letters of recommendation for future opportunities, we are provided a moment to follow up with them, to see how their work and careers have evolved, and to assist in whatever way we can to help propel them further.

Our campus in the park is like a beautiful bustling nest where they are nurtured (as we are too) by the unique experience. This exhibition represents a moment in time, a present moment of each individual’s journey after a period of incubation. I hope that you will enjoy the show and be inspired by their work."          

-Kristin Muller, Executive Director

The Exhibition