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Make. Build. Create

Creative projects that change how we see

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Not only do we understand that you are different, we all thrive on those differences. That’s why at MECA we offer so many possibilities so that you can find your place.

You’ll learn history of art, principles of design, and current influences and points-of-view while exploring literally any art form that interests you. Here declaring your major starts with claiming your space – setting up your own studio where you can push the boundaries of your work.

At MECA you’ll receive the individualized attention from faculty and staff that you need to grow as an artist and strengthen your work, and this begins with the application process. The MECA Admissions team can work with you to make sure you’re putting your strongest possible application forward. We review hundreds of portfolios each year, both in person and online, and it’s our job to help you put together your best work – just ask for help. When evaluating applications, we’re looking for all of your strengths with consideration given to your portfolio and academic achievements. Each applicant is considered for merit-based scholarships upon acceptance to the College. We invite applications from students who will contribute to the diversity of our student body, including traditional high school applicants, transfers, non-traditional and international students, and veterans.

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Artistic Excellence

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  • Art & Audubon: Collaboration in Conservation

    Public Engagement
    Read Story
  • 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
  • Shortlist Award — American Craft Council

    Ted Lott ’06
    Read Story
  • Discipline & Practice

    Cat Bates '09
    Read Story
  • Processes of Making

    Bryan Hansen '18
    Read Story
  • Inspired from Old Found Photographs

    Tyler Eldridge '18 (Illustration & Graphic Design)
    Read Story
  • Direct + Meaningful Connections

    Anne Buckwalter MFA '12
    Read Story
Art & Audubon: Collaboration in Conservation image

Art & Audubon: Collaboration in Conservation

Public Engagement

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!

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.

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.

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.

 

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.

Inspired from Old Found Photographs image

Inspired from Old Found Photographs

Tyler Eldridge '18 (Illustration & Graphic Design)

I’ve felt really challenged to hold myself true to this honesty when I’ve wanted to make something purely beautiful. I’m coming to learn more that listening to what “wakes you up,” is what leads to making work that is authentic, not forced.

Describe a body of work that you are currently working on. My work currently focuses on storytelling through referencing the past. Most of my characters are inspired from old found photographs of people during the early 1900’s. I love their clothing, haircuts, and expressions as they were captured during a time far before me. Some of these candid moments show childhood friends playing together, laughing, fooling around. Some of the images are much more tragic; they come from tombstones in a very special cemetery behind a church looking over Florence, Italy. Whether in moments of happiness or sorrow, behind each face was a person who lived a lifetime. I like to imagine the memories that their lives consisted of.

When I find photographs of people in the times before, during, and after the onset of industrialization around the world, I’m intrigued with what gave genuine happiness to their lives. I like to reflect upon moments when I have been the most happy. Technology certainly contributes to a lot of amazing conveniences and tools that aid my life, but can they compete with the moments when I’m undistracted, and rather utterly in the present? This has led me to consider ways of “waking up” people to their own thoughts about existence.

How has your education at MECA shaped you as an artist? MECA has taught me that technical ability can only get you so far if your concepts can’t connect emotionally with others. The task has been to investigate ways of communicating with my intended audience to achieve a feeling of authenticity. To emote this honesty, it’s been important to question each component and characteristic in my pieces to give them the most lucid voice possible. I’ve felt really challenged to hold myself true to this honesty when I’ve wanted to make something purely beautiful. I’m coming to learn more and more that listening to what “wakes you up,” is what leads to making work that is authentic, not forced.

What inspires you? I’m inspired by other cultures and their traditions and customs. I never want to stop traveling or doing things out of my comfort zone. When you get lost or end up in a place you had never planned for, it sticks in your mind. You remember that feeling of excitement or terror, and hopefully you can end up laughing about it. But whenever you reflect back on these moments of waking up to the reality of life outside of the sheltered box we put ourselves in, the memories become so vivid.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? It hasn’t been so much as a single person giving me a piece of quotable advice, but rather a culmination. The collective advice has been to question everything, to not let yourself get caught in a current with no power to steer. Don’t silence that child in you that sees every new moment or place with curiosity and excitement.

 

Direct + Meaningful Connections image

Direct + Meaningful Connections

Anne Buckwalter MFA '12

Being able to engage with such a supportive community has led me to exhibition opportunities, grants, and residencies I wouldn’t have found otherwise.

Inspired by the historic tradition of allegorical painting, my work depicts figures in ambiguous situations as a way of exploring the strange, nebulous rules of human behavior. I intend my paintings to be both quiet and disquieting, using obscurity, tension, and dark humor to investigate social constructs.

For the past year and a half, I’ve been working on a series of paintings called Perfect Order. In this work, anonymous human figures take on the roles and behaviors of animals that live in matriarchal societies. This series playfully demonstrates dominance hierarchies that subvert stereotypes of masculinity, legitimize female authority, and challenge the binary definition of gender. I’ve always been interested in using my work to create a dialogue about the instability of power relationships between people, and this project has given me to freedom to embrace that concept more fully and explore it specifically within a feminist framework.

Anne Buckwalter resides in Philadelphia, PA as a Artist and Conservation Technician. View her website here.


What resources, tools, or organizations have you found helpful throughout your artistic career?
The greatest resource I’ve had in my career is the privilege and pleasure of knowing some very dedicated and disciplined artists, arts workers, arts educators, and curators. I’ve worked at arts nonprofits since finishing my graduate degree at MECA – the Portland Museum of Art and SPACE Gallery in Portland, Maine, and I’m now at the Conservation Center in Philadelphia – and have found that, not surprisingly, having a day-job in this field comes with the benefit of direct and meaningful connections to those who are interested in art and artists. Being able to engage with such a supportive community has led me to exhibition opportunities, grants, and residencies I wouldn’t have found otherwise. I feel very lucky.

Advice for New Alumni
Treat your studio practice like a job, even if it doesn’t make you money. Figure out how many hours you will spend in your studio per day or per week and then accept nothing less. Show up. Stay focused. Keep track of your time. Don’t make excuses.

Anne Buckwalter, A Highly Successful Animal (2017), oil on paper, 22.5 x 30 in.