The community is an extension of our campus. Below you will find examples of where our students are working on projects with local businesses and nonprofits that make Portland unique.
All first year students at MECA are required to take the class FYIn, which introduces them to each other, the college, and the local community. The class of more than 120 students is divided into six groups, each with a community partner and real world project. This year’s partners are: Cultivating Community, Spiral Arts via Youth Alternatives, King Middle School, Space Gallery and The Portland Freedom Trail.
Students in Samantha Haedrich's Graphic Design class are working with the Portland Pirates to create a new logo in celebration of the hockey team's 20th anniversary.
Scott Nash’s Illustration students are working with Portland Rotary on designs for the public clock in Monument Square.
Students in Dana Sawyer’s philosophy course The Potentials of Human Consciousness are partnering with the Cambodian Buddhist Temple in Portland.
Students in Elizabeth Jabar’s Second Year Lab collaborated with Pickwick Independent Press (founded by alum Lisa Pixley ‘07). Students carved letter forms and make a giant outdoor letterpress to print tweets on canvas sheets that were then strung on rope and hoisted to the top of the Artist Studio building during Block Party. They are also partnering with the League of Young Voters on creating printed matter related to voting issues.
Paul Gebhard's students in The Art of Teaching Art will be partnering with The Telling Room and local Portland youth on their anthology and exhibit Searching for ME.
Maine College of Art students will have an exhibition of work in the Monument Square branch of Key Bank in November. As the official sponsor of the popular First Friday Art Walk, Key Bank is partnering with a different arts organization each month.
Students in Christina Bechstein’s Public Art class are partnering with TedXDirigo and the Institute of Contemporary Art at MECA to participate in INSIDE OUT, a large-scale art project that transforms messages of personal identity into pieces of artistic work. This global project asks local communities to produce black and white photographic portraits to discover, reveal, and share the untold stories and images of people around the world. The students are identifying subjects for large photographic portraits related to issues of voice and audience in the first Portland mayoral election. Look for them around the city during the first week of November.
Students in Matt Hutton’s Woodworking & Furniture Design elective class Design: A Sustainable Approach are working with Allagash Brewing Company. As part of their process for the Curieux ale, Allagash uses 30-gallon whiskey barrels. This fall, students are tasked with using these discarded barrels as their case study for the semester. Research includes understanding the origin of the product, developing a prototype, and then producing a new object, either sculptural or functional. Finished pieces will be on view at the Allagash retail store in late winter.
Faculty Lecture: Adriane Herman
Adriane Herman, Associate Professor of Printmaking and Foundation at MECA, will give a lecture in Osher Hall on September 15 at 12:30pm. Herman investigates conscious and unwitting forms of consumption and collection. She has had solo exhibitions at Western Exhibitions in Chicago, the Kansas City Jewish Museum of Contemporary Art, The Center for Maine Contemporary Art, Interlochen Center for the Arts, and Adam Baumgold Gallery in New York. Sites of group exhibitions include International Print Center New York; The Dalarnas Museum (Sweden); Portland Museum of Art; Ulrich Museum of Art (Wichita); The Brooklyn Museum, Rose Contemporary, and chosen barren land in Tainen, Taiwan. Herman’s work has been collected by The Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, The Progressive Corporation, Sprint, Inc., The Walker Art Center, and The Whitney Museum of American Art.
Herman has received grants from the Maine Arts Commission, the Charlotte Street Foundation , and the Avenue of the Arts Foundation. Her solo and collaborative work has been written about in numerous journals, including The New Yorker, Art on Paper, Art Journal, The Kansas City Star and Art New England, as well as the following books: Printmaking at the Edge: 45 Artists/16 Countries/A New Perspective; Imprint of Place: Maine Printmaking 1800-2005; The Best of Printmaking; Thomas Kinkade: The Artist in the Mall, and Printmaking: A Complete Guide to Materials and Processes.
Herman's independent efforts to normalize consumption of fine art dovetail with collaborative curatorial efforts such as SlopArt.com and projects she has undertaken with students and colleagues, such as “Long Overdue: Book Renewal,” which recycled myriad books, yielding 175 artworks temporarily collectible through Portland Public Library and Inter-Library Loan. Another book-based collaborative project Herman recently initiated is called Plunder the Influence and can be browsed online or viewed in the Joanne Waxman Library until the end of September.
Herman has lectured and conducted workshops at over fifty institutions. She holds a B.A. from Smith College, an M.F.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a Level II certificate in the Wilton Method of Cake Decorating. She offers limited edition multiples in barter for intimate details about others’ lives in the form of grocery or “to do” lists.
Scott Nash Summer Exhibitions
Illustration faculty member Scott Nash has a solo exhibition at the Centerville Historical Society Museum on Cape Cod. The show "Bedtime Stories for Pirates" is on view through September 23 and includes original illustrations, drawings, and 3-D marquettes all related to the process he follows to illustrate a final published children's book. His work is also included in the University of New England exhibition of children's book illustrators through October 30.
An accomplished illustrator with a distinctive vibrant style, Scott has illustrated more than 30 children’s books, including Saturday Night at the Dinosaur Stomp and The Bugliest Bug by Carol Diggory Shields, Over The Moon by Rachel Vail, Betsy Who Cried Wolf! by Gail Carson Levine, Snow Day!, Beach Day!, Rainy Day! and the just released Camping Day! by Patty Lakin, and the Flat Stanley series by Jeff Brown.
Ceramics Faculty are Featured Guest Artists at Watershed
MECA ceramics professors Lucy Breslin and Mark Johnson will be featured guest artists for a summer session at the Watershed Center for The Ceramic Arts in North Edgecomb, Maine. Watershed features an internationally known summer residency program that attracts artists interested in using clay as their primary material. The center brings together a diverse group of artists to live and work in a supportive, creative environment.
Images: (top) Lucy Breslin, (bottom) Mark Johnson
Students Conracted to Design Trophies
The Maine chapter of the National Alliance of Mental Illness contracted with MECA students to produce trophies for the agency’s Maine Walk. Sculpture students Nathan Plourde and Evee Dupuis each produced unique works in cast bronze. They corresponded regularly with the agency, giving them drawings and written documentation, keeping them appraised of the process and progress of the work right up to completion. They were paid for their invention and labor, and compensated for the cost of materials.
Evee wrote about her design, “Liberate is a depiction of the journey to mental health. The abstract interconnected shapes which define the foundation serve as a reference to interpersonal relationships while bringing to mind the intricacies of the human body. A cage, which sprouts organically from the apex of the base, serves as a portrayal of our tendency to become imprisoned within self-constructed parameters -- the doubts, negative imagery, and detrimental thought patterns which become habitual. Songbirds, an ancient symbol of hope, hover above this visual implication of entrapment, illustrating our ability to move beyond these inhibitions and fly free."
Nathan knew instantly that he wanted to make a symbol of the Greek mythological goddess, Hygieia. His design depicts the goddess holding a basin of water with a large snake coiled up along her body drinking the water. Nathan wrote, “Hygieia, daughter of Asclepious from Greek mythology is the goddess of health, cleanliness, and sanitation.”
Faculty Member Philip Brou wins PMA Purchase Prize
At the members’ opening reception for the 2011 Portland Museum of Art Biennial on Wednesday evening, April 6, five prizes were awarded to artists in the exhibition. The Purchase Prizes were awarded four artists: Philip Brou (MECA Painting faculty) for Black Box; James Groleau for Arbil Rubia Riyadh and Sinjar Karbala Basra; Siri Sahaj Kaur for Kristie; and Don Voisine (attended ‘73) for High Time. The Purchase Prizes are chosen by select members of the Museum’s Collection Committee and will become part of the Museum’s permanent collection. The William E. and Helen E. Thon Jurors’ Prize of $4,000 was awarded to artist Michael Shaughnessy for Cascade, Current and Pool (For the Vanquished Falls of the Presumpscot River).
Biennials at the Portland Museum of Art have evolved since 1998 and have gained in popularity as one of the foremost venues for contemporary art in the state. The three jurors—Jim Kempner, Owner and Director of Jim Kempner Fine Art, New York; David Row, a painter based in New York and Maine; and Joanna Marsh, the James Dicke Curator of Contemporary Art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C.—chose 65 works by 47 artists culled from more than 900 applicants. Of the artists chosen, nine have particiapted in previous Biennial exhibitions. The 2011 Biennial is the seventh in a series that showcases the best in today’s art world by artists associated with Maine, from digital video to painting, installation to photography, sculpture to prints, and more. The 2011 Portland Museum of Art Biennial is on view April 7 through June 5, 2011 at the Portland Museum of Art.
Image: Black Box by Philip Brou.
Blue Wrap Project Runway
MECA students in Christina Bechstein's 3-D Foundation class used their skills to transform discarded medical supplies into sculptural elements for a fundraiser. For Blue Wrap Project Runway, Partners for World Health recruited artists to create apparel and design elements for a fashion show to raise money for medications in the third world.
Participating MECA students: Liz Long, Rosie Allard, Bobbie Bennett, Sarah Capra, Casie Costanzo, Stephie Farrell, Jodi Ferry, Christina Hill, Haley Merchant, Timeiqua Nixon, Kayla Pinkham, Chris Snowman, David Twiss, Chris Vales, Josiah Webber, Charlotte Whiteley, Eric Wilbur, Gabriella Sturchio, Kyle DiMare, Laura Gertner, Madeline Gantos, Jeremiah Ray, Matt Rand, Molly McDermott, Maggie Muth, Maureen Patrick, Harlan Chrichton,Cynthia Chang, Amanda Merrill, Jessica Wheeler, Isaac Atkins, Lauren Sobolewski, Megan Anthony, Jackie Caswell, Frankie Leonard, Emily Bourne, Trystan Stofel, Lindsay Stevens, Liz Leino, Kayla Richardson, Kaitlin Callender, Cece Cassidy, Adam Schepker, Beth Schneider, Olivia Chartier, Sabrina Volante, Emmalee Dennison, Nickola Cole, Sheridan Cudworth, Jacquelyn Eftink, Emily Henderson, David Long, Jenny Maas, Gabriel Mangold, Danya Pugliese, Amanda Reddington, Carina Romo, Allen West.
Compositions and owner James McBride
Diversified Business Communications
MECA Alumna: Diane Wren
MECA staff and faculty: Christina Bechstein, Ling-Wen Tsai, Alex Rheault, Kate Hassett
Image: MECA students Rosie Allard, Sarah Capra, Carly Soos, Liz Long and Judi Ferry stand in front of the nature-inspired art objects they created using blue wrap.
Illustration Student Work in Maine Magazine
Illustration professor Mary Anne Lloyd wanted to give her students professional experience. While classroom assignments are helpful for building skills, she knew that real world assignments would provide a different lesson. So she contacted Ashley O'Brion, the art director of Maine Magazine, to see if there was a chance to collaborate.
Ashley said, "Mary Anne Lloyd pitched the idea to me and I loved it. Our magazine is all about mirroring the talents of the state. We see MECA as an incubator of young talent and wanted to find a way to incorporate the junior Illustration class into a spring issue. Our April poetry section was perfect because we had three opportunities for students' work to be featured. Not to mention, we all know that real world experiences are some of the best tools for teaching."
In the classroom, students create draft illustrations, review them with their professor and peers in a critique and then incorporate feedback to present the next draft. Sometimes that feedback means reworking an existing sketch, other times it means going back and starting from scratch on a whole new idea.
Ashley came to the classroom and asked each student to do three concept sketches. She gave feedback and chose one concept from each student to work into a final piece. She said, "One student created a sketch that I loved. When I received the final, it was a completely different piece. In a classroom situation, not dealing with clients or art directors, that can fly, but in real life, it doesn’t. We sent the student back, over HIS weekend to the drawing board to get that perfect portrait we had seen in his sketches. I think through that experience, he learned how important it is to listen to feedback and incorporate it. It can mean losing a job. As an illustrator, you have to be adaptable. Sometimes you’ll disagree, but at the end of the day, you’re often working for someone, not yourself, and to keep money in the bank, you have to be tuned into your client’s feedback."
In the end, all fourteen juniors submitted sketches. Wyatt Barr, Bridget Dunigan, and Mike Grass were selected to illustrate the article on national poetry month.
Students Participate in Blue Wrap Project
Maine College of Art students will participate in Blue Wrap Project Runway. The project aims to raise funds and awareness about the health care system locally and globally. Maine nurse Elizabeth McLellan is the founder of Partners for World Health, an organization that salvages discarded medical supplies and delivers them to third world countries. One such discarded medical supply is blue wrap, a fabric that is used to keep surgery tools protected and sterilized. Once the tools are used, the wrap is discarded. Thousands of tons are discarded annually. Partners for World Health worked with the local arts community to repurpose the blue wrap into objects of art, design and fashion for a fundraiser. Students were presented with the challenge: What can artists, citizens and problem solvers do to work with this material that will be around for a long time? How to make it beautiful and useful so that in the long term we can prevent the plastic material from clogging up the landfills? Students worked with local designers to create sculptural flowers and vines that will garnish the entryway to the Blue Wrap Project Runway show.
Blue Wrap Project Runway takes place at the Portland Museum of Art on March 30 at 6pm. Admission is $50 and all ticket sales are in advance. To buy your ticket please visit partnersforworldhealth.org or call 207.885.1011. No ticket sales at the door. All funds raised will go towards the purchase of medication for the third world.
Woodworking & Furniture Design students will work with faculty member Matt Hutton during the month of March to prepare a booth for Craftboston. Presented annually by the Society of Arts and Crafts, this event features 200 contemporary craft artists. Craftboston brings together the finest professional artists working in craft today, emerging artists from leading schools and universities, international artists, book sellers, non-profit craft organizations and educational lectures. The show will take place March 25-27, 2011 at Boston’s Seaport World Trade Center.
Image: Painted ash piece by junior John Nelson.
Illustration Student Exhibition at Art Haus
Eleven Illustration seniors will exhibit their work at Art Haus on Pleasant Street in Portland. The show "10 x 10 by 11" includes work by Alysa Avery, Seamus Doherty, Thomas Dowling, Erica Gammon, Juliana Lawrence, Cynthia Norrie, Briana Ring, Joe Rosshirt, Elise Smorcewski, Lori Stebbins and Bret Weese. All work is 10 x 10 inches. Styles are diverse and evidence a broad range of interests and formats. Imaginary and invented creatures and characters, landscapes and figures in watercolor and acrylic paint, digital media, and three dimensional sculptured objects are among illustrations in various formats such as editorial, children's book, cartoon, representational, horror, and fantasy.
Photo Students in Boston Exhibition
Four MECA photographers were juried into the Photographic Resource Center Student Exhibition in Boston. Students Emma Sampson, Beatrice Abbott, Gabriella Sturchio, and Graham Almstead will display work at PRC from April 14 through May 8. The show highlights student photography from colleges and universities throughout New England.
Image credit: Emma Sampson
Professor Jamie Hogan Illustrates New Book
Professor and Peaks Island resident Jamie Hogan illustrated "Ice Harbor Mittens," a Maine tale of adventure on the sea by author Robin Hansen. Hansen, who was born on Great Diamond Island, wrote the book about the connection between knitting and island life. Hogan's original illustrations for the book are on display at Knit Wit in Portland until March 13. Both Peaks Island and Great Diamond Island can be accessed by taking the Casco Bay Ferry, located in downtown Portland. "The folks here and icy waters were great inspiration for my art for Ice Harbor Mittens," said Hogan.
Art History Faculty Member Publishes Book
Art History faculty member Chris Thompson published "Felt: Fluxus, Joseph Beuys, and the Dalai Lama." Centered on a highly publicized yet famously inconclusive 1982 meeting between Beuys and the Dalai Lama, arranged by the Dutch artist Louwrien Wijers, Chris Thompson explores the interconnections among Beuys, the Fluxus movement, and Eastern philosophy and spiritual practice.
Andrew Murphie, co-author of "Culture and Technology" describes the book as "a letter lovingly recounting the often fragile moments in which artists have put themselves on the line to try to bring about a transformation in the human spirit. Thompson’s answer to his own question—‘what happens when nothing happens?’—seems to be, quite a lot."
MECA Students Design Museum Workshops
This fall, the Portland Museum of Art wanted to give visitors the opportunity to see the creative process at work. To make the process visible, they turned to MECA for help in creating educational programming from the emerging artist perspective. Based on the strength of their studio work and their aptitude for teaching, Painting faculty member Gail Spaien selected four seniors for the project: Maggie Muth, Nikki Stroumbos, Meghan Gervasio, and Hannah Godbey.
They spent months visiting the museum to find inspiration for their own work that will serve as the basis for a family workshop during February break. The workshop will help visitors see the life cycle of a work of art -- from getting inspired, to making sketches, to working on a piece, to the final product that hangs on the wall.
Gail noted, “There is an inner life to the artist’s process that museum goers usually don’t get to see. Museums present finished work. It’s when artists are making stuff that we are passionately engaged. Each time I produce work for an exhibit, as soon as it see it hung in the gallery I’m on to the next project. I experience an openness in my thought process when I’m designing a project or problem solving a painting. Seeing a piece completed uses my brain in a totally different way—much less fun. A family activity like this encourages adults and children to experience their own imagination. Instead of aiming for a single, correct solution to a problem, it’s okay to come up with multiple answers. Everyone accesses their intuition and reasoning skills. Those who come to this event get to be creative, create, and have a glimpse into what occurs in an artist’s studio.”