Collective Actions Exhibition


Video by Sarah Milkowksi-Dahlgren ’17

As a part of the Collective Actions exhibition in the Institute of Contemporary Art was the Public Engagement Capstone and Converging Roots/Verdant Bloom. This exhibition was on view from Friday, April 1 — Friday, April 22, 2016.

The Public Engagement Capstone is the culminating experience for seniors in the Public Engagement Minor. Students work independently with their chosen community partner to develop a proposal and socially-engaged art project that creatively addresses a local or national issue within a real world context.

Converging Roots / Verdant Bloom is an interactive project space designed and facilitated by the Public Engagement Program. Leading up to Earth Day, visitors can participate in workshops focused on climate change and the environment. Projects intended for all ages include screen-printing poster workshops, a DIY zine station, seedbomb making, panel discussions, films, and a climate change research station. Learn more here.

PE Fellow Wins 2016 Maine Heart and Soul Award

Public Engagement Fellow Sarah Milkowski DahlgrenPublic Engagement Fellow Sarah Milkowski-Dahlgren ’17 received the Maine Campus Compact Student Heart and Soul Award at their 15th annual awards ceremony, hosted at the Hall of Flags at the Maine State House in Augusta.

“Sarah’s passion, as well as her artistic work and aspirations, are deeply invested in creating positive change, building community, and creating a healthier planet. She leads the MECA student group Trash Talkers, an environmental group that takes action institutionally as well as within the community of Portland. Since the focus on climate is also a global issue, the group participates in global actions such as 360’s Global Climate March, organized around the Paris Climate Summit. Sarah’s work also focuses on institutional goals such as composting in the MECA Cafe, recycling, and conserving energy.”

Continue reading.

Still Standing: A Live Storytelling Event

From left, Pam Cummings, president of the Abyssinian Meeting House board, Elizabeth Jabar, MECA assistant dean, James Ford, former president of the Abyssinian board, and Elise Pepple, a MECA storyteller, photographed in the Institute of Contemporary Art at the Maine College of Art. Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

From left, Pam Cummings, president of the Abyssinian Meeting House board, Elizabeth Jabar, MECA assistant dean, James Ford, former president of the Abyssinian board, and Elise Pepple, a MECA storyteller, photographed in the Institute of Contemporary Art at the Maine College of Art. Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer at Portland Press Herald

The Public Engagement program at Maine College of Art, in partnership with The Abyssinian Meeting House, held STILL STANDING, a live storytelling event, at the Institute of Contemporary Art at MECA. The event was a culmination of the project and community partnership with The Abyssinian Meeting House, faculty member and local storyteller (creator of the HEAR TELL series) Elise Pepple, and her students in the Public Engagement course Storytelling 101.

This past fall, MECA’s Storytelling 101 class collaborated with The Abyssinian Meeting House to celebrate its story. For this project, students interviewed African American elders in Maine, to create an archive of stories to be housed at The Abyssinian Meeting House. By documenting these stories, the partnership aimed to celebrate the contribution and experience of African American elders by creating an archive of stories for future generations. Still Standing is the culminating event to celebrate the importance of African American experiences in Portland and communicate the significance of this history in the state of Maine.

The Abyssinian Meeting House is full of great stories. In 1866 it survived The Great Fire when fireman and member William Wilberforce Ruby saved it by covering it in wet blankets courtesy of spring running through the building’s basement. The Abyssinian Meeting House functioned as a cultural center and a leading contributor to The Underground Railroad. After years of vacancy, this cultural center was almost lost again in the 1970’s when it was slated for demolition by the city. Deborah Cummings Khadraoui rediscovered this important cultural center and catalyzed its restoration. As the third oldest African American meeting house in the country, The Abyssinian Meeting House is an important American cultural landmark.