Maine College of Art presents Art in Exodus, a mentoring and exhibition project through which immigrant artists and Mainers from underrepresented populations share their art and culture.
The third Art in Exodus exhibition takes place in MECA’s flagship Porteous Building from May 30–June 20, 2019. Art in Exodus began in recognition of World Refugee Day, which takes place every year on June 20 and features a variety of celebrations.
Art in Exodus features eight artists; an opening reception will be held on June 6, 2019 from 5-8pm. The exhibit will also be open for the June 7 First Friday Artwalk from 5-8pm at which work by the artists will be for sale in the Porteous lobby.
This year’s artists include Liz Rhaney MFA ’20 from Savannah, Georgia (multimedia); Caroline and Papa Mendy from Senegal (recycled wood designs); Amber Shahzad from Pakistan (painting); Jordan Carey ’19 from Bermuda (textiles); Shannon Infantes ’21, originally from Peru (photography); Sabina Najafova from Azerbaijan (painting, installation); and Hadithi Abdulle from Somalia (music). The various components of this event encourage underrepresented artists to share their art in a venue rooted in the center of the Arts District, gain confidence in their work, and build lasting connections with MECA and the greater Portland and Maine communities.
Amber Shahzad says, “I have been painting since childhood but the thirst of learning still remains. I want to be a skillful artist who could capture and perceive what an eye could see, a mind could imagine, and beyond imagination! I am searching for the light inside the human spirit which gives us faith and strength through my work. Whenever I paint I feel the urge to learn more. The vast ocean of knowledge stands in front of me and I am just waiting to jump in!”
Sabina Najafova who graduated from Azerbaijan State Academy of Art with a degree in applied arts, folk art & ceramics, says, “I want to invite my love for life, for nature, my love for my home country of Azerbaijan, which I love unconditionally, in this work. Azerbaijan is rich with natural resources and beauties, such as oil, gas, minerals, the Caspian Sea and Caucasus Mountains. When I look at the material, I know what to create from it, but fantasies come in the process. The day I came here I thought about MECA and how I could be involved, and now I am part of MECA. Here, I have free artistic expression. I have been building my network, making new work, and experimenting. I am learning about contemporary art and how to share my experiences with people.”
Recent MECA graduate Jordan Carey ’19, who majored in Textile & Fashion Design, says, “I always wanted to be an artist but found little to no opportunities for me in Bermuda. My father is American and through him I was able to come to the United States and pursue an art education. Feeling unfulfilled in my country of origin and unrepresented in my new home I struggle to find a fulfilling identity. In my work, I play with the contrasting voices of the Caribbean and the Celtic Isles that I see as polar voices blurred together within me.”
This project reflects MECA’s historic and ongoing interests in diversity, community, and public engagement and supports the College’s mission to “educate artists for life.” There is strong value in inviting artists of color and members of underrepresented communities to exhibit at one of Portland’s premier art spaces, where artists can gain greater visibility, interact within a central core of the Maine/Portland art community, and further their professional development skills.
The exhibition initially started as a way to recognize World Refugee Day, a global celebration that is held annually to honor the courage and struggles of the more than 15 million people worldwide displaced by war and persecution. Each year, Maine welcomes refugees from war-torn countries and helps them to rebuild their lives in safety. Since 2002, Maine has resettled more than 4,000 refugees from 24 countries.
This project is funded in part by a generous gift from the Moser Family Foundation, with in-kind support from Maine College of Art and the participating artists.
Leah Igo, Director of Marketing & Communications
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Kelly McConnell, MAT Professor and Director of Art Education Outreach
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Featured artwork by Amber Shahzad.