May Tree Residency for Women in the Arts

What would it be like to be able to make a real difference in another person’s life? Sylvia “Hawthorne” Bowman has done just that.

Inspired by women who made a difference in her life, Hawthorne decided to create an opportunity for a woman to reach her creative potential, through the creation of an artist-in-residence program. The purpose of the residency is to provide space, time, and a nurturing environment for a woman to contribute to the world’s cultural life through her talent.

Hawthorne was a member of U.U. Rowe Camp and Conference Center since the early 80s and attended Rowe’s WomenCircles for over twenty years. A graduate of Vassar, a Fulbright scholar, a union organizer, and a lifelong political activist, she spent her lifetime making sure the strength and power of women was celebrated. She studied art in Italy on the first Fulbright Scholarship granted to a Vassar graduate. Her generosity and vision for The May Tree Residency for Women in the Arts is a reflection of the values she has lived by throughout her life.

Sadly, Hawthorne died in 2008 at the age of 82. A brilliant, warm, strong, and articulate woman, she wished to continue her support of women and provided a bequest to create the May Tree Residency for Women in the Arts.

Hawthorne’s gift of $30,000 provided funding to insulate the art room and install heating to create a studio that could be used year round. In addition, it provided for the cost of meals and housing and a stipend for the artist in residence. Her sister, Janet Wheeler of Maryland, an artist herself, donated an additional $20,000 given in Hawthorne’s memory. Hawthorne’s hope was to provide the initial funding for the residency and to inspire others to help create a May Tree Endowment in order to keep the residency funded over time.

Donations may be made online here.

Application Process for May Tree Residency

Applications being accepted for Fall 2018 and Spring 2019.

Residency 1: October 1 – December 31

Residency 2: March 1 – May 31

Eligibility: This residency is for any woman who has not had the time or space in her life to pursue her art in order to put it out into this world.

Description: Rowe will provide studio space to live and work in and a stipend of $250 a month to the selected artist. She will be expected to participate in all of the responsibilities shared by the community, such as once a month meal preparation, weekend kitchen rotations (4 hours per week), and participation in the weekly intern project. The rest of her time, she will be free to focus on her creative pursuits.

For more details about the residency click here.

Selection: Proposals will be accepted by email only through April 30th, and should include a cover letter of introduction and describe how the applicant would use the quiet surroundings and a block of uninterrupted time to pursue a creative goal. The proposal should also include which residency the applicant is applying for, a concise description of the work she intends to do and no more than three photos of samples of her work, as well as three letters of reference: one personal and two professional. Selection criteria includes the practicality of accommodating the artist’s particular discipline.


Artist in Residence 2017/2018

Cynthia Dunaway Fall Artist-In-Residence 2017

1986 Cynthia moved to an art colony in Rockport, MA. This allowed her an opportunity to fulfill her lifelong dream of becoming a painter. While honing her craft, she took a job in which her combined skills as a decorator, seamstress, designer,and gardener were put to good use. She was able to create a life that included painting, but was unable to make it her primary focus in  fulfilling her goal of becoming a professional artist. She believes that being at Rowe will help her in this life-long endeavor. In Cynthia’s application she wrote, “I am at a place and time in my life
where I would finally be able to focus on my art. I have the energy, the time and the desire to see how much further I can go. And it is how I would like to spend the rest of my life.”

We are excited to be a part of Cynthia’s artistic journey as we continue our tradition of supporting women in the arts. The May Tree Artist in Residence Program is made possible through a bequest from the late Sylvia “Hawthorne” Bowman. Hawthorne had a vision of providing support for women artists by creating a program to give them the space, time, and a nurturing environment to contribute to the world’s cultural life through their talent. Rowe collaborated with Hawthorne to make that vision possible.Hawthorne’s sister, Jane Wheeler, is sustaining this project by creating the endowment process that allows for the pro- gram to continue in perpetuity.


Prior Artists in Residence

Hannah Harvester, Spring 2017

Hannah Harvester was awarded the Spring Residency for the May Tree Artist-in Residence Program. On March 1, Hannah arrived to Rowe a woman on an important mission – to make art her primary occupation.Hannah is no novice to the art world; her family is comprised of visual artists, musicians,and actors. Hannah also has studied language, folklore,and religion and worked in both the education and nonprofit fields. In her journey towards living a “meaningful and helpful” life, she says, she recognized that the arts play an important role. After drawing for most of her life, in 2012 Hannah turned her artistic hand to painting. In her application to Rowe,she wrote, “Painting fills me with joy like no other…. What I most want now is the time to develop my art. I feel like I’ve finally found my clearest calling, and I want to allow it the time and space to grow and form me into the best version of myself.”

Here at Rowe we’re excited to be a part of Hannah’s artistic journey and to continue our tradition of supporting women in the arts. 



Harmony Kuhl, Fall 2016 

Harmony Heidi Kuhl has been awarded the Fall Residency for the May Tree Artist-in-Residence Program.  Harmony, who formerly lived in Maine, is not new to Rowe. She began coming to Woman Soul in 2012 and was a work-study intern in 2014 and again last spring. “Making art has been an immensely important part of my life, and always has been the most natural thing in the world for me to do.  My mother still jokes about how, as a very young child, I asked for paper, glue and tape the way other children ask for toys. I was a most enthusiastic and prolific art student in my elementary school years, and always got the highest grade given each year in art. I especially remember, at the age of 7, knowing with all my heart that I was put on this planet to be an Artist.”

Harmony earned her Master’s degree in Elementary Education and worked in small private cooperative schools, where she was allowed to create her own curriculum. In bringing out the inner artist in her students, she was also able to re-enter the world of her own creative inner child. At one school she was nicknamed “The Queen of Make-It-Up Fun.” Later she divided her time between raising an amazing daughter and being self-employed as a group facilitator and life coach at her local women’s center, where she used art for processing and healing with women who were working through childhood sexual trauma. These “Creative Healing Groups” ran continuously for almost a decade. As Harmony wrote in her application, “The prospect of having a dedicated in-depth period of time to create in this peaceful setting, and on Rowe’s spirit-filled land, delights my heart. Having the studio space to spread out my art supplies and work on multiple projects over time would be a dream come true.”


 Alyce Skelton, Spring 2016 

When Alyce, an avid writer, came to The Rowe Center as a work-study volunteer in July of 2014, she planned to spend her free time working on stories or poems. But something happened: Alyce found the beauty of nature, and particularly the trees, calling to her, and on her time off she could be found sitting at the back of the dining room, painting trees, trees, and more trees.

 She had worked on art projects all of her adult life. Earlier, as a high school student, her art teacher had suggested she go to art school, but her parents discouraged it. Years passed, and as a parent of five, she got very involved in providing art experiences for her children — doing paper maché, linoleum block printing, drawing, painting, sculpting, filling the wading pool with sand to create framed sand castings and making all sorts of holiday decorations — but she never found time for her own projects. As a very new watercolorist, she feels she has so much to learn about watercolor. In her Artist-in-Residence application she wrote, “I consider myself a beginner, and someone referred to one of my paintings as ‘primitive,’and yes, they are, but I plan to use this time to improve my style, learn more by doing, as I am learning more and more each time I paint.”


Ulanda Denosky-Smart, Fall 2015  

Ulanda, who some may know from her days as a baker and cook at Rowe, graduated from Massachusetts College of Art, where she was awarded one of two departmental honors upon graduating in 2000. Though her intention was to continue her focus on art full-time, life got in the way and her creative energy went dormant. Now, after two brief stints in local studios, Ulanda wrote, “I yearn to make art full-time again….I would expect to come out of this residency with a prolific and comprehensive body of work with which to continue my artistic pursuits by having public exhibits, gaining more accessibility to artistic ventures, and having the momentum to continue making art and share it with others for the rest of my life.”


Elaine Boucher, 2014-2015  

Now in New Jersey, Elaine grew up and lived in Maine for most of her life and still considers herself a “Mainer.” Her passion for photography began as a child, when she could be found with a camera in her hand taking pictures of her family and cats. As a young adult, she began taking photography classes and working in a darkroom. Today Elaine continues to hike and travel, capturing images of the natural world along the way, especially animals, flowers, insects, and trees.

Elaine’s artist statement puts it well: “I connect very deeply with the simplicity and magnificence of Mother Earth. Her vast beauty astonishes me, from the smallest blade of grass, grain of sand, and insect to the largest mountain, ocean, and tree.”

While Elaine is at Rowe she intends to explore in greater depth the relationship between the perceiver and the nature of reality through the lens. In addition, she would like to further her exploration of painting from the photos she has taken, using acrylics and oil. Her long-term goal is to one day have a one-woman show of selected photos and paintings.

Amina Silk, 2011-2012 

As far back as she can remember, all Amina Silk wanted to do was art. “It became so much a part of me, there was no separation – dressing, gardening, food, decorating, loving, being, a walk in the woods. You name it, I’ll make art of it! Life is a canvas, the world is a canvas. Passionate yes, obsessed maybe so….”As a teenager, Amina wanted to go to art school, but it wasn’t to be. The May Tree Artist-in- Residence Program provided her with the time and space for more committed practice and training. During her time she found a rhythm to her creativity and tried out many different techniques. “I am drawn to working with found pieces in nature or something that many consider trash. Reuse, recycle, I see something in the ordinary stuff lying around here and there.”

She enjoyed the solitude. “I loved the time to be by myself without static from the outside  world. Simple – yes. Easy – not always.”


Elizabeth Bain, 2010-2011

This year the May Tree Residency for Women in the Arts grant was awarded to Elizabeth Bain of Morristown, NJ. Elizabeth was a work-study intern for three months in the fall of 2009 and it was then she found out about the artist-in-residence program.

Inspired by Oregon artist Susan Walsh’s Hero’s Journey painting courses, Elizabeth began to explore, through the medium of acrylics, her past and present and the direction her future life might take. Though she had no experience with painting at the time, she found the time spent in front of her easel productive and meaningful; so much so that she was moved to bring this work back to her own spiritual community, the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship.

Elizabeth plans to use her time at Rowe as a time for creativity and self-discovery. She would like to develop her skills as an artist and to more fully express herself. She stated in her application that she believes that, “the peaceful hills, the warmth of the Rowe Community, and the space that has been lovingly created and nurtured is the perfect place for self-discovery. Indeed it almost demands self-discovery and creativity.”


Trish Kile, 2009-2010 

This year the May Tree Residency was awarded to Trish Kile of Shelburne, Vermont.

Trish is an abstract artist who works in mixed media, including watercolor, acrylic, and collage. She sees her time at Rowe as a chance to throw herself into the creative process in a way that hasn’t before been possible. She is interested in producing a series of three bodies of work, using the themes of the environment’s elements, the four directions, and images from mythology. If time allows, she may do a fourth, focusing on social issues about war and its impact on veterans. Trish’s goal is to achieve her full artistic potential, away from the busyness of work and life. You can see samples of her work at


Eileen Lucas, 2008-2009  

At the beginning of September, Eileen Lucas moved to Rowe to be the first May Tree Artist in Residence. Eileen is a tactile and whimsical fabric artist who sees fabric as a blank canvas. Her vision is “to study the natural design of plants, trees, rocks, clouds, etc., and bring its essence onto fabric by dye, paint, stamp, or stitch. Then in all its glory, design into garments or quilts.” Rowe is a wonderful place to find inspiration from the natural world.

During her time at Rowe, Eileen has completed several quilts and watercolors and has pursued her artistic passion, taking classes in felting, participating in the conference License to Create with Shawn McNiff, attending watercolor classes with Walt Cudnohofsky, taking a quilting intensive with the renowned quilter Ruth McDowell, and she will be co-leading a conference in quilting here at Rowe in May.

Eileen has immersed herself not only in the RC&CC community, but in the local community as well. Over the winter she completed several quilts that she donated to residents of local nursing homes, joined the local fiber club, and put food baskets together in a monthly service project, rented a home here, and will be enrolling in the art program at Greenfield Community College in the Fall.

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