A distinctive part of every new MECA student’s education is FY-In, our innovative First-Year Seminar.

This required course involves studio work, academic research, and involvement with a community partner. Its intent is to fully immerse you in art and design, to involve you in the MECA and Portland communities, and to place your creative efforts into a real-world context. FY-In teaches the critical importance of combining research and practice, and serves as an introduction to collaborating with other students and with a community partner. Students read, write, research, make art, and discuss and critique work while pursuing projects specific to their section. The course is required of all first-year students.

FY-In classes work closely with local organizations like Cultivating Community and SPACE Gallery. Students, faculty and community partners identify a need and FY-In addresses that need, allowing students to creatively solve real-world issues with the community partner. For more information about MECA’s public engagement work, please see the Public Engagement page.

FY-In is also the starting point for MECA’s mentoring program. MECA values mentoring and aspires to be a leader in mentoring and advising. MECA’s mentorship program replaces the traditional faculty advising model found at most colleges.  Every student at MECA has a mentor who helps them navigate through college and beyond. Your FY-In instructor is your mentor for at least the first semester and will help you find a new mentor as you get to know other faculty, staff and alumni. Click here [link] for more information about MECA’s mentoring program.

If you have questions about FY-In, please direct them to Ian Anderson, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College.

Examples of 2015-2016 FY-In Classes

Game Art & Game Design

George LaRou, Professor of Digital Media
This class collaborates with a local retro game arcade to create arcade games in customized cabinets that will be installed on the MECA campus. After mapping the local community, examining art jargon, and cataloging art school experiences, students design mini games about MECA.

Community Partner: Portland Arcade

Community Action: Design & Activism

Charles Melcher, Associate Professor of Graphic Design

This class investigates the history of design/media as it has been used for social change. Students design and produce individual and collaborative projects and
are introduced to the concepts of problem-posing design/media/art, public engagement, and collaborative design practice by examining the work of contemporary designers and participating in a collaborative project.

Community Partner: Maine People’s Alliance

Re-image + Imagine

Paul Gebhardt, Visiting Associate Professor of Foundation

Artists see the world in unique and unusual ways and apply their creative ideas to both the practical and sublime parts of life. Students use multiple media to
re-imagine the physical and social structures around them. Working independently and collaboratively, students use a real-world design challenge to create purposeful and engaging imagery for the community.

Community Partner: Wild Seed Project

Portland Walking Library

Samantha Haedrich, Adjunct Instructor of Graphic Design

Students explore the Portland cityscape through the area’s trail systems, embarking on several walks and documenting their experiences through the art of DIY
publications. Students produce a set of zines, which will culminate in a public exhibition at the end of the semester. They discuss artists who have embraced place as a catalyst for creativity and learn how self- publishing can be used as a vital tool to circulate their work and ideas.

Community Partner: Portland Trails

Climate Change & Maine's Coastal Communities

Michel Droge, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Printmaking

This class studies the impact of climate change on Maine’s coastal communities. The class takes field trips to islands and coastal areas in the Gulf of Maine
and studies ocean acidification and ocean warming, new species in Maine’s gulf, storm surges, rising sea levels, and the impact of climate change on the salt marshes. Students investigate the role of the artist in the midst of scientific research and community change, and the class culminates in a collaborative exhibition at the Portland Museum of Art, creating a space for fishermen, scientists, and artists to congregate and discuss important environmental and social issues.

Community Partner: The Island Institute

Storytelling 101: A Class Exploring Narrative

Elise Pepple, Adjunct Instructor of Foundation

This class explores narrative craft through multiple channels, including writing, radio, and film. The goal is to get students to not only tell better stories but to live them. The class opens with a live storytelling event in which MECA alumni and faculty share true personal stories around a specific theme. Drawing upon a variety of guest speakers, area storytelling entities, and field trips, students explore the craft.

Community Partner: The Abyssinian Meeting House

Landscape & Identity

Robert LaBranche, Adjunct Instructor of Painting and Foundation

Students explore landscape in terms of identity and belonging—how they recognize themselves in their physical surroundings, including artificial, superficial
spaces, as well as the more natural and untouched environment, discovering how the intersection of the two creates worlds both real and imagined. Students discover and unpack cultural and social constructs and ultimately draw connections between their own changing experiences and perceptions within the varying landscape.

Community Partner: Portland Museum of Art

War of the Worlds

Philip Brou, Associate Professor of Painting

Students work collaboratively to build a scale model of an absolutely average neighborhood in Muncie, IN, c. 1995. They then design a project that responds
to the constructed location. These projects encourage students to explore their individual skills and interests and develop students’ abilities with the concepts of composition, design methodology, and articulation.