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November 15, 2017
October 26, 2017
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I never anticipated how much my college students would love going to a place that felt like a home and a family. They missed being surrounded by older, nurturing elders… The exhibition was a beautiful mix of wheelchairs, walkers, and wild hairstyles. The way our communities came together in this class and exhibit was phenomenal.
Article originally published in The Cedars Magazine.
Local Art Students and Seniors at The Cedars Fore a Connection Through Art
“Where can I be an aging artist?”
“Where can I be true to myself”
Kelly McConnell, an artist-educator at MECA, found herself pondering these questions while observing an Opening Minds Through Art (OMA) session at The Cedars.
OMA, led by artist-in-residence Pamela Moulton, is an innovative intergenerational art therapy program that allows seniors with dementia to create, and communicate, with abstract art while training physical therapy students at the University of New England for careers in elder care. Kelly was energized and inspired— and determined to find a way to forge the same kind of bond between seniors and her own art education students at MECA.
The Cedars Learning Community™ and the students at Maine College of Art develop an innovative, intergenerational approach to teaching art to seniors that transforms the way we see aging—and each other.
Kelly McConnell’s popular Public Engagement seminar teaches students at MECA how to teach art. Her pupils practice these skills in a real-world setting, typically a secondary school classroom. But after seeing OMA in action at The Cedars, she had a bold idea: asking The Cedars to host her seminar.
Developing community partnerships and educational opportunities is a core objective of The Cedars Learning Community™, so The Cedars eagerly signed on.
“I so appreciated the spirit of the leaders at The Cedars to do things that are things artists do— sit with uncertainty hover in the unknown, explore,” she says. “It was a leap of faith for everyone.”
Kelly’s collaborative, emergent approach to teaching meant that everyone involved— students and elder artists— could, and did, shape the direction of the course and the work. The elder artists practiced art techniques and the MECA students practiced teaching and social outreach strategies, but that was just the part of the knowledge shared and gained.
“We asked the elder artists what they hoped to get out of the class,” Kelly recalls. “They told us ‘at the end of this class, I hope we will be friends'”.
Over the next seven weeks, the elder artists and the art students did become friends.
“The elders and students grappled with big questions about the nature of art and their roles of artists,” Kelly says. “They could also ask each other about hair colors, nose rings, and their job prospects after graduation.”
The course culminated in a First Friday exhibition at MECA where students, seniors, their families, and The Cedars community gathered to celebrate a bold vision of community, aging, and art.
“Art didn’t mean anything to me until older years. It became a part of my life and I have the time. Art means not to be afraid of making a mark on the paper, and it doesn’t matter if my neighbor says it’s art. I am the artist! Art is about not being afraid to do what I want as an artist” — Lauretta, Elder Artist
We’ve assembled a great group of people, of identities, and of histories to be represented. The value of the show is in the dialogues it will create, among the artworks selected and among the artists and viewers. I have learned something from each of the participating artists and I look forward to sharing their work with you. — Nat May
In October 2017, the Portland Museum of Art announced their participating artists for the 2018 Biennial exhibition. The Biennial will be open January 26 to May 30, 2018.
This 10th Biennial is intended to highlight artists with meaningful connections to Maine, with a focus this year on the influence and presence of Wabanaki artists. The PMA chose Nat May, former Executive Director of SPACE Gallery, as the guest curator for the exhibition.
Maine College is Art is proud to have a number of artists from our community featured in the exhibit. Congratulations to:
Gina Adams ’02, Stephen Benenson (Adjunct Instructor of Foundation), Anne Buckwalter MFA ’12, Jenny McGee Dougherty ’05, David Driskell Hon. DFA ’96, Daniel Minter (Assistant Instructor of Illustration), and Joshua Reiman (Assistant Professor of Sculpture and MFA).
The Public Engagement student exhibition Art & Audubon: Collaboration in Conservation opens on Friday, October 27, 5–7pm at the Gisland Farm in Falmouth. The exhibition features work from the classes ‘Naturlab’ and ‘Field Guide to a New World’.
The Public Engagement program helps propel students into real world situations that tap their creative potential. These foundation classes collaborated with the Maine Audubon for a call for action to Environmental Conservation in Art.
Article and photography reposted from Maine Audubon. Photographer: Ariana van den Akker/Maine Audubon.
Art and Audubon have a rich history. This dates all the way back to John James Audubon, whose wide acclaim as a painter helped raise awareness about these species and inspire international bird conservation efforts. Maine Audubon continues to draw on this legacy by featuring the work of local photographers and painters on the walls at our education centers, in the pages of our guides and reports, and for sale in our retail stores.
Our relationship with the Maine College of Art (MECA) is an important part of that commitment today. Many MECA alumni have made wildlife conservation a focus of their work. Several have also partnered with Maine Audubon. Jada Fitch ‘06 illustrates our children’s books and other projects; Chris Patch’s ‘97 migration installation anchors the “Modern Menagerie” at Portland Museum of Art; and Hannah Rosengren’s ‘15 pollinator graphics helped illustrate our early “Bringing Nature Home” materials.
Two years ago, Maine Audubon Education Director Eric Topper was invited by Annie Seikonia, founder of the Portland Pollinator Partnership who also works at MECA, to attend a MECA presentation. MECA students were presenting mock grant proposals about pollinator conservation they had prepared in a math class taught by Bob Jenkins. It was clear that MECA wasn’t just producing art and artists, but forging leaders, activists, and messengers focused on addressing pressing local issues.
Next, Eric met with MECA’s Director of Public Engagement Elizabeth Jabar. Elizabeth explained her additional goal of developing deep, ongoing relationships in Greater Portland for instructors and students. Then he connected with MECA instructor Michel Droge, an accomplished contemporary artist in her own right. Much of Michel’s art focuses on serious and sometimes dire environmental themes such as climate change and impacted landscapes. She was teaching a course for second year students that fall, and thought of Maine Audubon as a rich source of subject matter and inspiration for students to create woodblock prints in the tradition of Chinese propaganda art — bold images and colors, few or no words, and designed to evoke action.
Eric collaborated with Michel, working with that class (and again with another this fall) to teach them about Maine Audubon’s mission and work and to help them select themes for their prints that align with our conservation priorities. In return, Maine Audubon has been the beneficiary of these powerful student products and the messages they convey. We also worked directly with Bob Jenkins’ math class last spring, providing content around which to base their mock grant proposals.
This fall, Michel Droge has repeated the Maine Audubon woodblock print project with a new group of second-year students. In addition, she developed another class for first-year students in which they produced handmade nature journals and field guides after visiting and learning about Maine Audubon. The results and products from both classes are stunning, and yet another example of how much “the next generation” of conservation leaders and activists has already accomplished and contributed today.
Two classes of incredible MECA student work will be displayed in the gallery at Gilsland Farm beginning this weekend, with an opening reception on Friday evening, October 27. Please join us in appreciating this beautiful art, congratulating these amazing young people, and celebrating this vital community partnership!
Tracy Mumford Salt ’13 and Steven Jackson Salt ’13 won audio awards in the 2017 Third Coast/Richard H. Driehaus Competition.
Produced by Tracy Mumford Salt ’13, The Traffic Stop is an audio documentary that breaks down the high-profile fatal events that occurred on July 6, 2016, when Philando Castile was pulled over for a routine traffic stop by police officer Jeronimo Yanez, in Falcon Heights, Minnesota.
Photography (header) by Tim Nelson; cropped and edited.
Steven Jackson Salt ’13 is an associate producer of Blink One for Yes, a podcast that went behind closed doors to witness the hardest choice one family ever had to make. It was aired on Snap Judgment and originated from Nick van DerKolk’s podcast Love and Radio.
The Third Coast / Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Competition seeks the best audio stories produced world-wide. They have celebrated more than extraordinary 130 stories and bestowed $250,000 in cash prizes to many of the most innovative producers of this past decade.
My work was always instinctual. I believe in chance, thrift shops, found objects. In crafting records, for instance, I might hear an old Harry James riff and weave it into a Freddie Cannon song. The sound of someone slamming the studio door might become the hook. I view art the same. In the fifties I was close to Otto Fenn, the fashion photographer, who introduced me to Andy Warhol. We had an ongoing canasta game — Andy, Otto, Johnny Ray, and myself. Andy was decorating the windows at Bendels and displaying his wonderful shoe sketches. I was working with linen and burlap, applying resin, molding, hardening, and covering it with sand, beads, and shells. Very organic, very physical. Andy considered my stuff edgy and arranged a show at the Bodley Gallery. Reviews were strong, interest high, but in the sixties the music business shot even higher — Bob Crewe, 1968
Bob Crewe (1930–2014) was a legendary record producer and songwriter for many hit songs. One of Bob’s most known successes as producer and writer was for the Four Seasons and Frankie Valli’s solo work. The story of the Four Seasons was adapted into the musical Jersey Boys, which was performed on October 6 and 7, 2017 at Portland Ovations.
The timing provided the perfect collaboration between Maine College of Art and Portland Ovations to create a special event in honor of Bob Crewe. On October 5, 2017, MECA hosted a gallery talk in their Bob Crewe Gallery Seeing Sound: The Life & Work of Bob Crewe.
Dan Crewe, Bob’s brother, MECA Trustee, and President of the Crewe Foundation, was the lecturer at this special Gallery event. Having worked alongside his brother for many years as his right hand man and business partner, Dan Crewe is confident that MECA’s Bob Crewe Program in Art and Music is the perfect way to celebrate his brother’s legacy and life-long passion in both his music career and his serious engagement to the visual arts.
In the recent article by WLBZ2 “Legendary Maine songwriter remembered with his own gallery,” Dan recalled, “My brother didn’t read music. Most people can’t figure out how he wrote all those hit songs. But he sang the songs and then he would have an arranger put them on charts.”
In April 2014, the Bob Crewe Foundation awarded MECA $3 million dollar gift to establish a new area of study that explores the intersection between art and music. The program, working in tandem with MECA’s rigorous visual arts offerings, prepares students to cross traditional boundaries as musicians, sound artists, performers, and artists.
All photography by Kyle Dubay ’18.
We will use the garden as a platform for people to connect with people and cultures they may be unfamiliar with.
Emily Staugaitis ’08 and Minara Begum formed Bandhu Gardens as a way to connect and support families within their community. This neighborhood garden and project, located in Detroit, Michigan, creates a network for Bangladeshi women to directly sell produce to local restaurants.
Many Bangladeshi families garden as a way to feed their families, having held onto traditions and ways of gardening and cooking from their homeland. However, extra produce often expired before usage, becoming a consistent problem. In conversations with her Bangladeshi neighbors, Emily learned that many were in search of additional income to support their families. It was in this moment that she realized she could connect Bangladeshi women to area restaurants that are in search of local produce. Driven to empower Bangladeshi women by amplifying and expanding opportunities, Bandhu Gardens was created.
After a successful three years, Emily and Minara have been able to expand their neighborhood garden, allowing more families access to the garden space. Bandhu Gardens also continuously hosts community events such as traditional Bangladeshi dinners and cooking classes, as a positive way to support and bring together the entire community.
Congratulations to Ted Lott ’06 (Woodworking & Furniture Design)! Ted is featured in the October/November issue of American Craft magazine. He is one of this year’s recipients of the Shortlist Artist award in American Craft Council’s “Emerging Voices” competition.
The American Craft Council introduced the Emerging Voices Awards in 2015 to recognize and celebrate the talented craft artists working today. Each Emerging Artist and Emerging Scholar receives $10,000 towards their work and research; Shortlist Artists each receive $1,000.
Born and raised on the shores of Lake Michigan, Ted Lott has resided in 12 different states and visited every one but Alaska. A sculptor, designer and craftsperson, he believes that “thinking and making are two sides of the same coin.” Since graduating from MECA, he has earned two graduate degrees from the University of Wisconsin‐Madison, worked as a furniture maker, and been an Artist‐in‐Residence at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center, Kohler Arts/Industry Program, Haystack School, Vermont Studio Center, and elsewhere, as well as widely exhibiting his work.
I work to appropriate what is culturally and aesthetically perpetual and evident in my understanding. Using the language, in this piece, intends to create fluctuating meaning that aspires to release the language from any ideological charge.
About The Work
I was invited to take part in the inauguration exhibition of The Palestinian Museum in Birzeit. I finished my summer intensive course at Maine College of Art in Portland and went back to Birzeit, which is 20 kilometers north Jerusalem, to install my new work in the garden of the Palestinian Museum as part of Jerusalem Lives. I worked with the museum staff and some friends to install the work and then the work came together as luminous words made out of light boxes that were suspended above the ground and surrounded with olive trees. The piece read “God Bless This Land Whether It Was Holy or Not”. The work was installed in one of the orchards where the backdrop shows Jaffa and the Mediterranean Sea as if they are close to reach, but they are not.
In my previous works, I looked into cinema and photography as determinant components in Arab modern culture. In my studio, I work to appropriate what is culturally and aesthetically perpetual and evident in my understanding. Using the language, in this piece, intends to create fluctuating meaning that aspires to release the language from any ideological charge. It was articulated as twisted common daily pray that touches on faith and question dogmas.
The work reads clearly in the daylight and it gets dark, it lights up. It stands in the landscape, day and night with a changing scenery and changing mode of reading the piece. The “Adan”: call for prayer, from the neighbor mosques, the fog, the shadows of the trees, became part of reading the work and what it means. However the most surprising experience, was watching some sort of foxes who left their grottos in the last hours before the sunrise, to play among the artworks in the garden. They came very close to us while we were documenting the work, drinking tea with sage.
About The Artist
Inass Yassin has multifaceted practice that examines the modernity in the Arab culture, inspired by her personal reading of transformation. Shift in space and social structure has been main theme in her painting, installation, film and photography work, Yassin is a former director of Birzeit University Museum and a current Fulbright grantee at Maine College of Art. Visit her site here.
About The Exhibition
Curated by Reem Fadda, Jerusalem Lives (Tahya Al Quds) opened on August 27. It was the first exhibition at The Palestinian Museum and will be on till 30th January 2017. The exhibition is participatory work, consisting of four chapters that examine the cultural, political, economic and ideological aspects of Jerusalem. The exhibit includes works by 48 artists; 18 works were large-scale commissions in the museum’s extensive gardens ‘based on ideas about land, openness and non-exclusion’. The Jerusalem Lives exhibition attempts to study and examine the city of Jerusalem as a case study, a microcosm or condensed laboratory that metaphorically represents globalization and its failures, and to find answers that inspire us to struggle for a better future.