CONGREGATE: Features work by over 100 graduating students.Learn More
Tracks in Radio, Short Documentary Film, Photography, and Writing.Explore Our Graduate Certificate
July 12, 2017
Utilizing collaborative artmaking as a tool for equity, social justice and public action.
Two faculty members, Elizabeth Jabar, Assistant Dean, Director of Public Engagement & Program Chair of Printmaking, and Colleen Kinsella, Printmaking Instructor & Printmaking Studio Technician, recently were interviewed for their art collective Future Mothers on CSArt: Maine.
“What / who is currently inspiring you locally?”
“Our Public Engagement students at Maine College of Art inspire us every day by their willingness to take creative risks and engage others in challenging dialog. Their experimentation and fearlessness in making socially engaged art is a model for their peers and their community. We also are inspired by young muslim students of color leading public actions against police violence and the recent muslim ban.”
Future Mothers is the collaborative team of Colleen Kinsella and Elizabeth Jabar. Their works bring together scenes and events from everyday life with divine journeys, cycles of nature, disasters, wars, birth, and death. Future Mothers is oracle-like in nature, remembering vague echoes of gatherings and traditions, creating visual illuminations of creation and destruction, a retelling of cycles throughout history that bind us to the present and future. Kinsella and Jabar intertwine signs, symbols, architecture, nature, landscape and figure into a juxtaposition of episodes and symbolic statements that elevate female narratives and confront the conditions of contemporary life.
Students who first entered his class fearful of ‘science’ came away with confidence, knowing that artistic expression can be a powerful tool to reflect important science issues facing society today
Portland, ME– Maine College of Art and The National Marine Educators Association (NMEA) are proud to announce that Doug Vollmer, former Assistant Professor in Academic Studies at MECA, is the recipient of the 2017 Outstanding Teacher Award. The award is given to a classroom educator for effective and innovative classroom teaching at any level and Doug’s decades of dedication to his work and passion for teaching coastal science made him a natural choice to receive this honor. The award was presented to him on June 27, 2017, at NMEA’s national conference in Charleston, SC, by 2016-17 NMEA President Tami Lunsford. Doug has been a formal teacher for 60 years and for the last 40 has inspired and educated MECA students as a professor of biology up until his retirement in 2016. He continues to be a passionate advocate for the preservation of the natural world.
As a science professor at an arts college, Doug challenged his students not only to think and reason like a scientist, but also to use the visual world as a canvas for interpreting science through the use of art. Every year, Doug Vollmer took students on field trips to nearby rocky shores, salt marshes, and dunes as part of his Natural History of Coastal Ecosystems class.
As Doug’s colleague Bob Jenkins, who teaches math as an Associate Professor at MECA points out, “Doug connected each artist to the natural world and the issues surrounding the presentation of coastal ecosystems. He empowered students to create art, as a universal language, to convey concepts that cross into real life political and scientific arenas. Students who first entered his class fearful of ‘science’ came away with confidence, knowing that artistic expression can be a powerful tool to reflect important science issues facing society today.”
As a teenager, Doug spent summers in Maine with his family. Hours were spent collecting, examining, and photographing marine life with an amateur box camera. He has received National Science Foundation grants in Radiation Biology and Marine Biology and was a collaborative producer of the award-winning video Reading the Water: Lectures on Home Video Ecology from the Gulf of Maine, which documents the interrelationship between three generations of Vollmer men as they explore the Maine shores. Part Darwin and part Steve Erwin, but always uniquely Doug, he disciplined his students to see with clear, fresh eyes the empirical and esthetic essence of Maine’s natural environment. He leaves a legacy of dedicated pedagogy combined with a personal affectionate flair for investigating both the science and nature of art.
Assistant Professor in MFA Julie Poitras Santos‘ site-specific visual practice takes many forms, including installations, video, performances and public projects. Much of her recent work uses walking as a means to create community, investigate richly sited ways of knowing, and narrate new territories. This fall, Julie will be teaching ‘Walking Art History’ as an Academic Studies class.
One of twelve artists recently selected to create work for the 2017 IPark Site Responsive Biennial in East Haddam, CT, Poitras Santos was in residency for three weeks this spring making “green is the forest we wander (a locus, an echo, an amble)“, a 15-minute site-specific audio walk that invites participants into the forest imaginary populated by things magical and unseen. Using cues in the landscape as guides to research, on-site investigation, and poetic inscription, the audio essay wanders through Mie’s Trail, a reclaimed gravel pit and natural preserve on the IPark grounds. Poitras Santos discusses this work along with an upcoming project in Sweden in a recent interview for Konst i Blekinge (Art in Blekinge). You can listen to the podcast here. (the interview is Swedish, with Julie talking in English).
In August, Poitras Santos will be joining the Milena principle and presenting her work along with other artists and experts in diverse fields for “Made of Walking, La Romieu,” an international forum focusing on dialogues between performance, art, literature and new media related to walking practices. The forum follows the theme of “listening to the ground,” honoring the work of Pauline Oliveros. Additionally, an upcoming essay this fall in Living Maps Review details “Map & Universe,” a walking based artwork she created in southern Sweden in May 2016.
Closer to home, a 50-page catalogue detailing last summer’s PLATFORM PROJECTS/WALKS 2016 (funded by SPACE Gallery through the Kindling Fund) was released in April with an accompanying public walk through the Portland peninsula. The catalogue contains photos, essays by Poitras Santos and Barbara Louder, and walk descriptions from the fifteen artists who were invited to participate in the initial project.
Art and architecture have always fascinated me; I have combined the two since my earliest memories. As soon as I came to MECA, I surrounded myself with the medium that defines it all: sculpture.
Describe a body of work that you are currently working on:
Post graduation, I am finding balance between personal, conceptual research and commissioned work. I’m currently designing and building a table for a woman I just met to help support my practice and upcoming trip to the Venice Biennale. Amid local projects, I am reading (and rereading) the books: Ways of Seeing by John Berger and The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell for insight on new theories and approaches from my new location of Mystic, Connecticut. My present endeavors revolve around the importance of a relic, the facade, and the psychology behind them. When I return from the Biennale l will begin on my next body of work, hopefully with some great inspiration.
What’s your background? What made you chose to go into art?
I grew up in a house built by shipmaster from 1836, was raised by a mother who restores art and a father who makes art. Art and architecture have always fascinated me, and I have combined the two since my earliest memories. As soon as I went to MECA, I took every three dimensional discipline I could, and surrounded myself with the medium that defines it all: sculpture.
How has your education at MECA shaped you as an artist?
The network of MECA faculty and peers have guided me in so many ways. I think the close-knit community of MECA allowed for critiques to be powerful and effective—and for conversations and visual growth to prosper. From freshmen year to the final thesis exhibition, I have not only discovered my practice, but am continuing into the world of art-making with confidence.
What inspires you?
Space (negative), yard sales, and stories gathered through eavesdropping.
What kind of career do you want to pursue after graduation?
My current objective is to apply to as many things and accept as many opportunities as I can. I am in the midst of organizing a studio space, which will be the utmost important thing for me to continue my practice as a sculptor. I am also researching a number of international artist residencies that I would like to attend next Spring, as well as gallery shows near and far. Career wise, I am taking it year by year, but I eventually would like to attend a graduate program to become a teacher for the arts.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
“Never turn down an opportunity!” I’m far too curious to pass up exciting events, and it’s always a disappointment when you can’t get somewhere just from not trying. Also, “Be here now,” because it’s easy to get distracted within this world of art and people.
Tavia Gilbert Salt ’01 Receives Best Female Narrator Audie Award
Tavia Gilbert, who attended the Salt Institute of Documentary Studies in 2001, received a 2017 Best Female Narrator Audie Award for her narration of Be Frank With Me, by Julia Claiborne Johnson. Other nominees included Robin Miles (Another Brooklyn: A Novel), Juliet Stevenson (The Little Red Chairs), Bahni Turpin (The Underground Railroad) and celebrated actress Emma Thompson (The Turn of the Screw).
Based in Brooklyn, New York, Tavia has narrated almost 500 audiobooks, spanning categories of literary fiction, biography/memoir, fantasy, children’s literature, and science. A nine-time Audie nominee, she is also the winner of a Voice Acts Award, a ListenUp Award, and 17 Earphones Awards.
Tavia earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Cornish College of the Arts, her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Non-Fiction from the Vermont College of Fine Arts, and studied audio documentary production at Salt.
The Audio Publishers Association (APA), founded in 1986, is a nonprofit consisting of the audiobook industry and of audio publishers. As a business, they advocate for the best interests of audio publishers as well as deliver services, programs, and networking events. Every year, the APA hosts hosts an awards ceremony to celebrate the audio industry as they give away 27 various awards, in categories ranging from Best Audiobook of the Year (Hamilton: The Revolution) to Best Audio Drama (In the Embers) and Best Female Narrator (Be Frank with Me).
A news story recently written by Alex Acquisto Salt ’11 recounted the heroic actions of jogger Rachel Borch during her terrifying encounter with a rabid raccoon, which she managed to drown in a puddle and made headlines:
“Little did she know she was about to be attacked by a rabid raccoon she would end up killing with her bare hands.” — Maine Woman Attacked by Raccoon Drops Rabid Animal in Puddle, Bangor Daily News, Alex Acquisito Salt ’11
Interviewed by Justin Ray of Columbia Journalism Review, Alex Acquisto Salt ’11 admitted that when she wrote the piece, “she did not expect her story would go national, with write-ups of the piece appearing in The Washington Post, the New York Daily News, Esquire, and many others.” Acquisto first noticed the news in a local paper and asked her editor if she could write a story on it, then met with the young woman at her house, who recounted the attack.
The Last Option and Occupy Portland are two projects Acquisto worked on during her time at the Salt Institute of Documentary Studies, which has been recently integrated into MECA. After studying at Salt, she first started working at The Forecaster before moving on to the Bangor Daily News to work as a staff writer.
Follow Alex’s work at: https://twitter.com/acquistoa
We are thrilled to announce that Sophie Cangelosi ’16 had three images chosen to appear on American Illustration‘s exclusive and juried online collection, Best Images of 2016. Over 10,000 entries were submitted — way to go, Sophie!
When Bayside Bowl expanded their bowling facilities, owner and former president of the Maine State Senate, Justin Alfond connected with Maine College of Art. Said Alfond, “Bayside Bowl’s expansion needed local flare and art. Jessica Tomlinson introduced me to a bunch of great artists.” Alfond selected artists Tessa Greene O’Brien MFA ’16 and Sophie Cangelosi ’16 to create two murals. Tessa is the co-founder of The Portland Mural Initiative and Sophie installed a mural for her senior thesis. In less than a week, both artists met with the client to provide initial sketches and revisions. The two different concepts played to each artist’s strengths. Tessa’s text based mural builds off her skills as a painter with Better Letter Handpainted signs. Sophie’s silhouettes are similar to work she did in her senior year. Both murals are located on the first floor of the new addition, which is located across from MECA’s most recent residential housing. Alfond is pleased with the results. “Tessa and Sophie jumped on our mural projects and delivered the punch that we wanted.”