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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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  • 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
  • My Path to Freelance Illustrator

    Hannah Rosengren Moran '13
    Read Story
  • Best Female Narrator Audie Award

    Tavia Gilbert Salt ’01
    Read Story
  • Sophie Cangelosi ’16 Chosen for American Illustration’s Best Images of 2016

    Sophie Cangelosi '16
    Read Story
  • Bayside Bowl Murals

    Tessa O'Brien MFA '16, Sophie Cangelosi '16
    Read Story
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.

 

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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.

My Path to Freelance Illustrator image

My Path to Freelance Illustrator

Hannah Rosengren Moran '13

Take a break to recuperate from the craziness of your final semester, but maintain the work ethic you cultivated as an art school student.

My path to becoming a freelance illustrator began when I made the decision to transfer from a liberal arts school in Massachusetts to an art school next to my hometown. I knew that I wanted to be self-employed but had no idea what that would look like until I learned about freelance work and the world of illustration.

A specific direction for my work became clear after completing my first project post-graduation, Plant These to Help Save Bees. I had drawn inspiration from nature for many years, but didn’t realize how passionate I’d become about bringing awareness to environmental issues through illustration — something I’ve continued to strive for since.

Now I’m able to work in a home studio freelancing and running my online shop — a job description I had previously never heard of but love so much. Over the last ten years, I’ve also worked at my family’s painting business which continues to be a gratifying and important aspect in balancing my illustration work and financial stability as an artist.

Hannah Rosengren Moran Illustration ’13 resides in South Portland, Maine. View her website here.


0–2 Years Post Graduation
After graduating from MECA in 2013, I worked part-time at the Portland Museum of Art as a Visitor Experience Associate. In my free time, I started my first project post-graduation called Plant These to Help Save Bees. In early 2014, the poster went viral and was published in American Bee Journal, ELLE Decoration Sweden, and Jamie Magazine – Dutch Edition. Its popularity led to my working with Greenpeace on a poster about the Tongass Forest that year, and attracted other clients and online shop customers interested in the burgeoning environmental themes in my work.

3–5 Years Post Graduation
Throughout the next couple of years, I continued to build my shop inventory by making prints and products of personal projects between freelance jobs. In 2015, the newly-opened Press Hotel commissioned a coloring book all about their hotel and Portland in the summertime. In 2016, I was awarded a Rebel Blend Fund Grant from Coffee By Design to illustrate and distribute a zine called How to Cultivate a Pollinator-Friendly Yard, about seasonal ways to help pollinators in Maine. Most recently, I’ve had the opportunity to work with Greenpeace again on another poster for their campaign to protect the Boreal Forest in Canada.

Advice for New Alumni
My advice for new alumni would be to take a break to recuperate from the craziness of your final semester, but to maintain the work ethic you cultivated as an art school student. It’s rare that I have as crazy a workload as I did while at MECA, but when I do, the ability to stay motivated and organized while working on multiple projects with coinciding deadlines has been essential.

Image: Hannah Rosengren, Map of the Maine Coast. ©

Best Female Narrator Audie Award image

Best Female Narrator Audie Award

Tavia Gilbert Salt ’01

Tavia Gilbert Salt ’01 Receives Best Female Narrator Audie Award

Tavia Gilbert, who attended the Salt Institute of Documentary Studies in 2001, received a 2017 Best Female Narrator Audie Award for her narration of Be Frank With Me, by Julia Claiborne Johnson. Other nominees included Robin Miles (Another Brooklyn: A Novel), Juliet Stevenson (The Little Red Chairs), Bahni Turpin (The Underground Railroad) and celebrated actress Emma Thompson (The Turn of the Screw).

Based in Brooklyn, New York, Tavia has narrated almost 500 audiobooks, spanning categories of literary fiction, biography/memoir, fantasy, children’s literature, and science. A nine-time Audie nominee, she is also the winner of a Voice Acts Award, a ListenUp Award, and 17 Earphones Awards.

Tavia earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Cornish College of the Arts, her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Non-Fiction from the Vermont College of Fine Arts, and studied audio documentary production at Salt.

The Audio Publishers Association (APA), founded in 1986, is a nonprofit consisting of the audiobook industry and of audio publishers. As a business, they advocate for the best interests of audio publishers as well as deliver services, programs, and networking events. Every year, the APA hosts hosts an awards ceremony to celebrate the audio industry as they give away 27 various awards, in categories ranging from Best Audiobook of the Year (Hamilton: The Revolution) to Best Audio Drama (In the Embers) and Best Female Narrator (Be Frank with Me).

Sophie Cangelosi ’16 Chosen for American Illustration’s Best Images of 2016 image

Sophie Cangelosi ’16 Chosen for American Illustration’s Best Images of 2016

Sophie Cangelosi '16

We are thrilled to announce that Sophie Cangelosi ’16 had three images chosen to appear on American Illustration‘s exclusive and juried online collection, Best Images of 2016. Over 10,000 entries were submitted — way to go, Sophie!

Sophie Cangelosi, Phantasma, 2016

Sophie Cangelosi, Phantasma, 2016

Sophie Cangelosi, Phantasma, 2016

Bayside Bowl Murals image

Bayside Bowl Murals

Tessa O'Brien MFA '16, Sophie Cangelosi '16

When Bayside Bowl expanded their bowling facilities, owner and former president of the Maine State Senate, Justin Alfond connected with Maine College of Art. Said Alfond, “Bayside Bowl’s expansion needed local flare and art. Jessica Tomlinson introduced me to a bunch of great artists.” Alfond selected artists Tessa Greene O’Brien MFA ’16 and Sophie Cangelosi ’16 to create two murals. Tessa is the co-founder of The Portland Mural Initiative and Sophie installed a mural for her senior thesis. In less than a week, both artists met with the client to provide initial sketches and revisions. The two different concepts played to each artist’s strengths. Tessa’s text based mural builds off her skills as a painter with Better Letter Handpainted signs. Sophie’s silhouettes are similar to work she did in her senior year. Both murals are located on the first floor of the new addition, which is located across from MECA’s most recent residential housing. Alfond is pleased with the results. “Tessa and Sophie jumped on our mural projects and delivered the punch that we wanted.”

Sophie Cangelosi '16

Sophie Cangelosi ’16