MAT Students at MECA Inspire and Heal at Barbara Bush Children's Hospital
Portland, Maine ~ Making art transports the mind, body and soul to places of imagination and inspiration. While the Master of Arts in Teaching program at Maine College of Art primarily prepares teacher candidates to teach in K-12 public schools, opportunities for teaching art in local community-based settings abound. As part of the Alternative Settings class with Kelly McConnell, a group of four MAT candidates selected a placement at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital in Portland.
The group shared their enthusiasm for collaborative and individual art making by planning a group activity, followed by one-on-one projects tailored for each person.
Shaun Aylward, a member of the MAT cohort, began the idea of making puzzle pieces with one common line to unify their creation.
As teachers in training, Adrienne Kitko, Lia Petriccione, and Tess Hitchcock set up a station for the children to learn and explore. Their lesson plans included providing the young patients with various paints, colors and brushes to design unique puzzle pieces that would form a whole. “We anticipated a low number of children to attend this activity,” Kitko said, “because it started at 6:00pm and our hospital contact mentioned that the children had a long day and are usually tired around that time. This was not the case for us; we had 10 energetic, excited children who couldn’t wait to sit down and start painting. Kitko further explained their planning process, “We chose the puzzle painting project because we knew we would be teaching a group of children who are sick and may not have the opportunity to meet each other during their stay at the hospital. The project encouraged children to come together and participate in a fun and engaging activity. Our hope was for the children to get to know one another, make a friend or two and realize they are not alone. Our hopes were exceeded when we had more children than we expected and their family members participated in the painting, laughing, and playing around with the puzzle pieces.”
After the puzzle activity, the MAT teacher candidates worked with individual students, designing lessons that focused on art skills that would bring out personal expression and be fun to do. Each teacher candidate used a medium that the children wanted to learn something more about.
When describing the experience, Tess Hitchcock noted, “Ashleigh wanted to learn how to paint, so I brought watercolors and a smile to the hospital one Saturday morning.” Hitchcock’s lesson built on Ashleigh’s desire to paint and extended her thinking by posing age-related provocative questions about art making like, “Is it okay to make a mess?” “Does your painting have to look like something real?”
Tess Hitchcock worked with Ashleigh to learn about basic watercolor technique and to experiment with abstract design.
Adrienne Kitko’s reflection on the hospital experience sums up the artistic and emotional aspects of their placement.
“Tess, Lia, and I got to the hospital early to set up. While we were waiting at the nurse’s station, I heard doors slowly open, and saw tiny eyes peering at us through the sliver of the open door. We put our stuff down and immediately a curious little girl came up to us, exclaiming that she loves to paint, but only had 10 minutes before her next IV treatment. We all reacted quickly and set this little girl up with a palette of various colors of paints, brushes, a water cup, and let her pick out her own puzzle piece.
Some children collaborated on their puzzle piece together, furthering the community aspect of our project. One mother was sitting and painting with her son. Her husband was running around the ward with the other children, a 20 month-old baby among them. I had no way of knowing which child was sick, but the mother’s face and body language told me all I needed to know as she kept glancing over to the baby. At the end of the night, the family had to say goodbye to the baby and put him in a little metal crib. They thanked us profusely for giving them a night to collaborate with their children through art. That moment is when I realized why I was eager to select this teaching opportunity.
The next day was my one-on-one lesson with a year old boy named Collin. I had met him the night before and he seemed enthusiastic about art and had some art terms under his belt. I decided to explore the subtractive and additive processes of monotype printing with him. He was shy and not as talkative as I am use to, however he was ready to learn and get his hands messy from the get-go. He used every tool I brought to experiment with mark making and was very interested in writing “I <3 you” to his mother because he learned one has to write backwards while making a print. Collin made his print by adding paint to an inking plate and using various tools to subtract and explore line qualities and mark making.The best moment of the monotype printing-pulling lesson came when he pulled the paper back to reveal his print.”
Colin titled his monoprint "Sand Monster.”
Maine College of Art’s nationally accredited Master of Arts in Teaching program is designed to prepare artists to recognize how their personal attributes and talents enhance and strengthen the learning environment. It is an intensive, ten-month program that blends the worlds of art and education.
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MECA Alum Designs Kinetic Rooftop Sculpture for Coffee By Design
On December 15th Coffee By Design on 1 Diamond Street installed and unveiled their large kinetic rooftop sculpture. Jac Ouellette who earned her BFA with honors at Maine College of Art in 2002 designed the sculpture, which was fashioned out of aluminum and steel. The sculpture weighs in at 1000 pounds and was lifted onto the roof of the building with help of a construction crew.
Coffee by Design owners Mary Allen Lindemann and Alan Spear worked closely with Ouellette to collaborate on ideas for the piece. Ouellette would put together mockups on a small scale to test the kinetic nature of the piece, and after many rounds of designs a final one was chosen. Spears spoke about the process coming together, “It’s incredible to finally see the sculpture where it was designed to stand… This project was a true collaboration between so many people who turned our dream into a reality.” Lindermann also commented on the sense of community the sculpture brings to their newest location, “Everything we do is about our love for coffee, our coffee farmers and their families, local artists and organizations and most of all, our customers. Jac’s sculpture is the next step for Coffee By Design.”
Graphic Design Students Design A Limited Edition T-Shirt For Maine Red Claws
Autumn Frantz, Junior in Graphic Design with Dajuan Eubanks, President of the Maine Red Claws. Photo by Michael McSweeney
On Friday, November 21, students in Design Workshop attended the Maine Red Claws home opener. The class, taught by Professor Samantha Haedrich, spent part of the fall semester designing a t-shirt for the NBA D-League team to commemorate fans as they enter their sixth season.
The group of nine junior and senior design majors met with Red Claws president Dajuan Eubanks and his marketing team throughout the process. Eubanks decided to approach the College because, “We wanted to engage the students at MECA in some real life experience to help design our opening night t-shirt that we give out. Needless to say, we were very excited about the result. The students came up with terrific and creative ideas, and responded well to our critique and input.”
Each student had the opportunity to present two design concepts that embodied the idea of the fan’s representing the team's “sixth man.” The final t-shirt, designed by junior Autumn Frantz, was given away to the first 1000 fans who attended Friday’s game. It featured typography in the shape of the state of Maine, with the largest text reading: You are the Reason. Autumn said of the experience, "It was wonderful working with an organization that greatly cares about Portland's community, plus it was a valuable opportunity to work with a real client to gain experience. The icing on the cake was seeing my design on t-shirts the fans received at the game we attended.”
MECA Gets Snaps from Sharon Butler's TWO COATS OF PAINT Blog
Readers may have noticed that posting slowed down a little last week. I spent a few days up at theMaine College of Art(known as MECA) in Portland, where I gave a presentation about my work and enjoyed visiting studios of talented graduate and undergraduate students.Business Insiderrecently named Portland one of the top places to travel, calling it a "funky low-key destination that prizes quality food and cutting-edge art," and I sampled both on my short trip. Amid presenting, dining, drinking, and talking with students about their projects, I managed to wedge in some visits to faculty studios.
[Image at top: Snap of work-in-progress in Prof.Gail Spaien's campus studio. ]
Gail Spaien,Still Life #7, 2014, acrylic on linen, 38 x 40 inches.
Chair of the Painting Program, Spaien paints delicate, finely detailed images of flowers in vases. I'm looking forward to her March 2015 exhibition at theAnthony Giordano Galleryat Dowling College on Long Island.
Each morning on my way to much-lovedMarcy's Dinerwhere a single order of bacon consists of a heaping plateful and a pancake is larger than a Frisbee, I passed this chunky Anthony Caro sculpture displayed on the lawn at the Portland Museum of Art.
Leslie Murray,Clover Explosion, 2014, 36 x 42 inches.
My first faculty studio visit was withLeslie Murray,who earned her undergraduate degree from MECA in 2008, then moved to NYC where she got her Masters at NYU. Now she's back at MECA as a part-time faculty member and painting facilities manager. Her sunny studio is on the top floor of a nearby office building where space costs a mere $295 per month. She recently had a solo show atSchoolhouse Galleryin Provincetown, Massachusetts.
Murray makes objects like these black sparkly rock-like forms, which she then uses as subjects for her paintings.
Leslie Murray, work in progress.
I gave my presentation on Thursday afternoon to a full auditorium (thanks everyone for coming!), and was pleased to see some familiar faces. Naturally we took a few selfies. To the left isMartin Mugar, the artist and blogger who coined the term "Zombie Formalism." To the right:Mark Wethli, an old Facebook friend, also stopped by. He's on sabbatic leave from his teaching position atBowdoin Collegethis semester.
Here isProf. Honour Mack's spacious studio in the renovated attic of an old Victorian house. She, too, is on sabbatical, and has just started wrestling with a new series of abstract paintings that engage the circle inside the square. Some of her older work on paper is on view at theInstitute of Contemporary Artin Portland through December 22.
Working horizontally on a tabletop, she pours fluid paint and lets it pool and blend in unexpected ways.
Maine is a good place to buy warm boots. Plenty of styles are on view atReny's, a discount department store that specializes in hunting and adventure gear, right next door to MECA. If you need Carhartt or camouflage, this is the place. MECA's spacious, elegant building, on the main street in downtown Portland, was once a department store.
I visited grad studentTessa O'Brienat a building that used to house a restaurant. She paints murals on the outside and uses the inside to mix her paints and prepare her spray gun. The restaurant owner used to have copies of his favorite paintings made in China. Here's a Frida Kahlo portrait (above) that still hangs in the restroom.
One iteration of Tessa's building.
Professor Philip Brou works in a well-organized basement studio located very nearWinslow Homer's studioat Prouts Neck. Brou (pronounced "brew") has been working on a series of paintings that depict actors who play extras in movies and on TV shows. He contacts talent agencies in NYC, chooses the actors and actresses from head shots, then sets up photo shoots in the city. The photographs become the basis for his remarkable paintings.
Brou's solitary figures surrounded by a rich black paint remind me of NYC painterMatthew Miller's self-portraits, although Miller's work seems more rooted in American colonial painting while Brou's recall the flat existentialism of late1960sphotorealism.
Another MECA faculty member who is working on interesting projects is art historian, curator, andFluxerChris Stiegler. His two main projects areTown Hall MeetingandThe Institute for American Art, a curatorial project that he maintains in his Portland living room. Currently Stiegler has an installation bySebastian Blackon view (pictured above).
When I visited thePortland Museum of Art,I was greeted by large-scale Katherine Bradford, Alex Katz, and Chris Martin paintings in the lobby. Further inside, I found other gems, includingStorm, a juicy 1996-97 painting by Sir Howard Hodgkin in the "Treasures of British Art" exhibition.
In the Early American wing, which had recently been rehung, I found manysublime landscape paintingsby Fitz Henry Lane, Frederick Edwin Church, and their talented cohort, as well as this little charmer,The Letter,an 1837 painting byAmasa Hewins.Doesn't it look like a colonial rendition of a Vermeer?
TheBusiness Insideris correct about both the art scene and Portland's fantastic culinary culture. The MECA crew took me toEmpire Chinese Kitchen, which specializes in Dim Sum, andCaiola's Restaurant, which features inventive cooking with locally grown ingredients. I highly recommend both.
Two Coats of Paint is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. For permission to use content beyond the scope of this license, permission is required.
Faculty Spotlight on Art Education (MAT) Chair, Fern Tavalin
How did you get from a B.A. degree in Economics from Franklin & Marshall to being a professor in the field of Art Education at MECA?
F&M is a liberal arts college. So, while my major was economics, I took several fine arts, language arts and foreign language classes. I especially enjoyed the sculpture studio and metal sculpting in particular. Also, I lived in Belgium and attended a Flemish high school for one year, with a heavy emphasis on aesthetics. The year after I graduated my college built a state-of-the-art photo lab and extended its use to alumni. There, I found a life-long love for photography and subsequently video.
What is the most challenging teaching experience you have had? What did you learn from it?
The toughest challenge I had as a teacher was analyzing student performance in social studies and realizing that my methods did not work. It was with that awareness that I turned to integrated arts and hands-on learning. I still required essay exams, so the tests did not change, but my method of teaching and learning shifted radically. As a result, student learning and engagement improved dramatically. From this experience I became an active proponent of arts integration and project-based learning.
Much of your professional life has been dedicated to the use of technology. Studio art classes, currently, are tactile experiences. Do you see any change in this facet of art education in the future? Are campuses becoming irrelevant?
Your question begins with a common, mistaken assumption. My approach to technology is to use tactile processes alongside virtual experiences. For instance, when I designed technology-based summer institutes, they included workshops in book arts so that there was literal copying and pasting alongside the virtual. I stressed stop-motion animation so that students could still learn about the properties of clay and other materials along with the subtlety of movement that stop-motion requires. Artists worked with teachers to build plaster body casts to project words from found poetry, generated from personal narratives. These skills and processes, when used in tandem with planning items such as sketching and storyboarding, foster the type of critical thinking and problem solving that embody new standards for student learning. Are campuses irrelevant? It depends upon how they are used. Our MAT candidates need on-site mentoring for the first semester. Student teaching is another matter, though. This year, we sent three people out of state, one as far away as San Francisco. Given the current state of telecommunication, distance supervision works, and having classroom experiences in other locations enhances seminar discussions.
Chloe Beaven and Caitlin Ervin Public Engagement Fellows for 2014-2015
Senior Chloe Beaven and junior Caitlin Ervin are the Public Engagement Fellows for 2014-2015. Sophomore Hannah Howard is the Project Assistant. They will receive a financial scholarship and academic credit to design and lead projects and initiatives that focus on building relationships between campus and community. The fellowship is supported with a grant from the Helen and George Ladd Foundation.
Chloe Beaven, a senior in the New Media program, will be partnering with MECA, Seeds of Peace, and Waynflete School in order to increase understanding and support of diversity (especially issues involving race), elevate and further contemplative dialog, and broaden student civic responsibility at MECA. Her projects will include implementing the Big Think Series, monthly dialogs hosted by an artist or academic within the field of socially engaged art or social justice; revitalizing the MECA C.A.R.E diversity group; inviting high school students to work on the Other Side of Shade workshops with the Seeds of Peace students, and develop an annual student exhibit focusing on issues of race; establishing the VIP Vote, an annual early Vote Day at MECA; and increasing programming around MLK day and the attendance at the MLK Breakfast.
Caitlin Ervin, a junior in the Sculpture program, will be partnering with Environment Maine and the MECA Trash Talkers group to focus on environmental projects and sustainability within MECA and the Portland community. Her projects will include assisting with community partner logistics and taking on leadership for Envisioning a Sustainable Society with Professor Dana Sawyer; partnering with and assisting with group projects in Paul Gebhardt's FY-IN class; and co-leading and coordinating environmental programs in MECA's residence halls.
Hannah Howard, an undeclared Sophomore, is also partnering with Environment Maine to work on environmental projects and sustainability within MECA and the Portland community. She will be assisting with all of Caitlin Ervin's projects, in addition to continuing her role as a Resident Assistant in MECA's residence halls.
The Public Engagement program has several community partners, including: Portland Trails, The Island Institute, Bicycle Coalition of Maine, Environment Maine, Camp Susan Curtis, Portland Brick, Avesta Housing, King Middle School, and Seeds of Peace. There are also three Senior Capstone Project Partners, including Planned Parenthood, Waynflete School's Racial Awareness student group, and Portland Brick. Jon Rubin will also be a visiting artist for Public Engagement.