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Artistic Excellence

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  • Salt Alumni Win Audio Competition Awards

    Tracy Mumford Salt ’13, Steven Jackson Salt ’13
    Read Story
  • Bob Crewe: Seeing Sound

    Bob Crewe Program in Art & Music
    Read Story
  • Emily Staugaitis ’08 Co-founds Bandhu Gardens

    Emily Staugaitis ’08
    Read Story
  • Shortlist Award — American Craft Council

    Ted Lott ’06
    Read Story
  • God Bless

    Inass Yassin MFA '19
    Read Story
  • Discipline & Practice

    Cat Bates '09
    Read Story
  • Testing One’s Own Imagination

    James Sylvester '18
    Read Story
  • Processes of Making

    Bryan Hansen '18
    Read Story

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What do our alumni do?

Statistics from the 2015 Strategic National Arts Alumni project (SNAAP)

Did you know?

55% is the national average for arts alumni that work as professional artists.

45% is the national average for arts alumni that are self employed, independent contractors, or freelance workers.


Work as professional artists


Work as graphic designers, illustrators, or art directors


Founded a business


Work as craft artists


Work as fine artists


Work as art teachers


Pursued an MFA after graduation


Are self-employed, independent contractors or freelance workers


Make art in their personal time

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Salt Alumni Win Audio Competition Awards image

Salt Alumni Win Audio Competition Awards

Tracy Mumford Salt ’13, Steven Jackson Salt ’13

Tracy Mumford Salt ’13 and Steven Jackson Salt ’13 won audio awards in the 2017 Third Coast/Richard H. Driehaus Competition.

The Traffic Stop

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.

Listen to The Traffic Stop

Blink One for Yes

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.

Listen to Blink One for Yes

TC / RHDF Competition

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.

Listen to all Winning Stories
Bob Crewe: Seeing Sound image

Bob Crewe: Seeing Sound

Bob Crewe Program in Art & Music

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.

Explore the Bob Crewe Program in Music & Art. View the printed Music Program brochure 

Dan Crewe, Bob’s brother, MECA Trustee, and President of the Crewe Foundation

Steve Drown, Coordinator of the Bob Crewe Program in Art & Music

Laura Freid, President of MECA

Dan Crewe and Ian Anderson, MECA’s VP of Academic Affairs and Dean of the College

All photography by Kyle Dubay ’18.

Emily Staugaitis ’08 Co-founds Bandhu Gardens image

Emily Staugaitis ’08 Co-founds Bandhu Gardens

Emily Staugaitis ’08

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.

Shortlist Award — American Craft Council image

Shortlist Award — American Craft Council

Ted Lott ’06

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.

American Craft Council magazine (click for larger image)

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.

Visit Ted’s website here.

God Bless image

God Bless

Inass Yassin MFA '19

It is one of my works that aspire to celebrate what is culturally and aesthetically perpetual and valuable in my understanding. A work that aspires to release the language and the daily believers pray from any ideological charge. It is a pray that praises the faith and condemns dogmas.

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.

Inass Yassin, God Bless, 2017, Light boxes 18.5×1.2m; Acrylic 3mm, PVC 3mm, PVC 5mm, National Paint, LED waterproof.

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.


Exhibition Reviews

Discipline & Practice image

Discipline & Practice

Cat Bates '09

Balance ambition with discipline and patience. Building a career as an artist takes time and you need a place to live and food to eat. Working for someone else doesn't mean you can't make art. It means you are going to need discipline to make art in your spare time, to apply for craft shows, more interesting jobs, residencies, and grants.

I began building my independent studio practice soon after graduation from MECA. I focused initially on one of a kind works but eventually, begrudgingly, I began working in multiples and developing a production line. While a student I had shunned this kind of work believing that it lacked soul or artistry, however once I started doing it I found unexpected fullfilment. Production speaks to my inspirations of utility, efficiency, and economy; I take pleasure in the challenge of creating beautiful designs within its restraints.

It took six years of partial self employment and cautious growth for me to become fully self employed as an artist. If I could give a piece of advice it would be this – balance ambition with discipline and patience. Building a career as an artist takes time and you need a place to live and food to eat. Working for someone else doesn’t mean you can’t make art. It means you are going to need discipline to make art in your spare time, to apply for craft shows, more interesting jobs, residencies, and grants. The discipline I developed while building my business has been instrumental in maintaining its success over time. If you work for yourself, it is on you to make sure the work gets done, and that you keep making incredible art.

View Cat Bates’ portfolio site here.


Testing One’s Own Imagination image

Testing One’s Own Imagination

James Sylvester '18

MECA and Portland's community is ever inspiring to live within; it's a city filled with artists, small businesses, and programming that value supporting arts and the community. In the future, I look forward to continuing to inspire, enact creativity, visualized imagination, and thoughtfulness within new communities.

I’ve loved to make art as long as I came remember.  Mostly drawing.  I came to MECA after graduating high school, and growing up with fantastically creative friends who helped me to exercise my imagination through everything from large scale drawings of the comic book heroes we’d designed together to DIY 3 person skateboard mobiles made of large pieces of wood, skateboard trucks and wheels and foam padding.  When it came time to think about the things I really cared about devoting my life to, I knew it was my affinity for drawing and my love of bringing things from my imagination to life that deserved my time spent on them.

James Sylvester, We All Must Eat

My current body of work uses a few of my favorite current processes to create separate components of prints that can then be fit together to create a final piece, almost like a puzzle.  The prints have two main components, which work like a problem and a solution.  The problem, in this case, is often an empty stage (a large print, often a linocut or an etching that presents an empty space, whether it is a carving of a book with an empty page or a sprawling grassy landscape) that is waiting to be filled.  The solution would then be what fills that empty stage (other, smaller prints that are carved in anticipation of enhancing and embedding a story or scene into the larger print by building up objects, textures, and characters).  This process allows me to test my own imagination.

James Sylvester, No Thought of Why

I can create a stage that is, say, a somewhat empty forest and then ask myself “What might be the craziest thing I could fill the rest of this forest with?” and choose to simply fill the empty space in the print with leaves or go so far as to print a troll in the forest surrounded by a bunch of baby ducks instead.  I can choose imagery that works together to make points, or just pretty pictures.  Because of the repeatable nature of printmaking, I can actually create prints of both possible outcomes from the same initial stage (different solutions to the same problem) and present them together to encourage people to think about the limits of their own imagination by seeing the variety of ways in which I apply mine.

James Sylvester, A Western Film Was on The Telly

I owe great thanks to the community of MECA and Portland, Maine itself for being where I am currently with my work as it is ever inspiring to live in a city filled with artists as well as small businesses and programs that value promoting the arts and community in general.  This summer I had the fantastic opportunity to work as the summer intern at a print studio in town called The Publication Studio.  There I worked with two other printmakers to teach artists who came in as part of a day program the shop offered how to do various printmaking processes such as mokuhanga style woodcuts, screenprinting, lithography, and monotype and use them to create products that could then be sold in the shop, with 75% of the profits going back to the artists and 25% back to the shop.  We brainstormed events we could involve the community in and accomplish using printmaking techniques, such as large collaborative screen printing demonstrations and even a DIY carnival (in partnership with Bomb Diggity Arts) with all handmade prizes and games.  In the future, I look forward to continuing to inspire and enact creativity and visualized imagination and thoughtfulness within whichever community I am a part of.

James Sylvester, Empty Room

Processes of Making image

Processes of Making

Bryan Hansen '18

I now have a great respect for the processes of making. There are some incredibly intelligent, amazing faculty at MECA — they are genuinely excited about your growth and constantly push you to be a better maker.

Describe a body of work that you are currently working on.
My most recent body of work involves a series of lightly abstracted tools that can be handled but are functionally unusable. These objects juxtapose visual worth and use value, hybridizing stereotypically “masculine” actions and “feminine” aesthetics. They act as totems that merely imitate utility and provide the wielder with an illusion of agency or power. The relationship formed between the body and these powerless objects provides the viewer/wielder with an opportunity to consider a range of give and take relationships and contemplate the power struggles within them. These objects are mostly made with brass, wood, or leather, mimicking the construction of tools. They take the somewhat idealized form of a woodsman’s arsenal, consisting of a shovel and hammer combination, a spear, a bugle, and a modified elk antler.

Bryan Hansen, Spade

What’s your background? 
I have been making since I was very young. At any given moment I could be found sketching in a notebook or building odd little contraptions. I came to MECA with the intention of majoring in Illustration, but after taking a few Metalsmithing classes as a Freshman I had a change of heart. Working with metal feels much more natural to me. I am obsessed with how rewarding it is to hold a finished object that can be turned over and interacted with in my hand.

How has your education at MECA shaped you as an artist?
MECA has been an incredible resource in the time I have been here and really helped me grow as a maker. I am now more methodical in my making and take the time to plan things out to be as efficient as possible, which I was not doing before MECA. I could never get past the mental block of expending effort on the planning of a project, especially when the outcome was all I cared about. I now have a great respect for the processes of making. There are some incredibly intelligent, amazing faculty at MECA — they are genuinely excited about your growth and constantly push you to be a better maker. MECA was the only college I wanted to go to, and I probably would not be working with metalsmithing without MECA’s education.

What do you hope to do after graduation?
After I graduate, I will start working as a bench jeweler for another maker, while I put together my studio and make my own jewelry and tools on the side. I would love to one day be self-sufficient enough to make and sell my own work. With the facilities MECA has provided, I am confident I will be able to succeed. As long as I am always making, even as just a hobby, I will be happy.