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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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  • Anne Emlein + Rose Allard ’14 Win 2016 CAP Apprenticeship

    Faculty Anne Emlein + Faculty Rose Allard '14
    Read Story
  • Portland Mural Initiative

    Tessa Greene O'Brien, MFA '16
    Read Story
  • Essence of Form

    Miles Spadone '12
    Read Story
  • Confident in My Ability

    Allison Bonin '16
    Read Story
  • Intimate and Mysterious Connections

    Liz Long '14
    Read Story
  • Fantastical Realities

    Iva Milovanovic '16
    Read Story
  • Majors Exhibit Nationally

    Mary Forst '16 & Betsy Lewis '16
    Read Story
  • “Wake Up Alice!” Exhibition

    MECA Students, Alums, Faculty
    Read Story
Anne Emlein + Rose Allard ’14 Win 2016 CAP Apprenticeship image

Anne Emlein + Rose Allard ’14 Win 2016 CAP Apprenticeship

Faculty Anne Emlein + Faculty Rose Allard '14

I remember as a small girl watching the lobstermen sitting around the general store knitting mittens and trap heads. I began to understand that self-sufficient Mainers had their own answers to labor and climate needs, and that knitting is a part of our past, present and future-culturally and economically.

Faculty Anne Emlein and Faculty Rose Allard ’14 were chosen as a Master / Apprentice pair in the 2016 Craft Apprentice Program, implemented by Maine Crafts Association and Maine Arts Commission.

The seven-month CAP apprenticeship offers concentrated peer-to-peer learning experiences for apprentices who demonstrate a commitment to further their abilities as specialized craft practitioners. They will accomplish this through a significant relationship with a master artist. The program will also serve to celebrate the role of the master/apprentice relationship as a way to generate creative entrepreneurship through the cultural sector. It addresses the need for developing sustainability and resiliency in the craft sector by allowing craft artists to acquire new skills, tools and management habits that help them adapt to the changing environment of craft consumers. CAP offers support and guidance from the MCA and MAC, as well as, honorariums to both master and apprentice. The program concludes in October with a exhibition and alumni gathering during Maine Craft Weekend and Maine International Conference on the Arts in Lewiston.

The number of applicants to the inaugural year of CAP exceeded expectations leaving a difficult task to the 2016 CAP jurors: Carolyn Hecker, MCA Founder and Gallery Director Pearson Legacy Gallery (Deer Isle), Ian Anderson, Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the College MECA (Portland) and Barbara Michelena, Founder and Curator, CRAFT (Rockland).

Meet the 2016 Master / Apprentice Pair

Master
As a child, Anne Emlein spent summers in Phippsburg, ME with her grandmother, who inspired her to pursue a fiber arts degree. She earned a BFA in Textiles from the California College of Arts and Crafts in 1981 and purchased her first knitting machine shortly after. She went on to earn a Certificate in Discipline‐Based Art Education from the Getty: California Consortium for Arts Education, Crocker Art Museum (Sacramento, CA) and an MFA in Textiles from the Rhode Island School of Design. Her work has been exhibited in numerous regional and national craft shows and museums, and she is the founding director and program chair of the Textile and Fashion Design Department at the Maine College of Art (MECA), where she has been teaching since 2012.

“I remember as a small girl watching the lobstermen sitting around the general store knitting mittens and trap heads. I began to understand that self-sufficient Mainers had their own answers to labor and climate needs, and that knitting is a part of our past, present and future-culturally and economically. “ Anne Emlein

Apprentice
Anneli Rose Allard, who goes by Rose, spent much of her childhood in her Finnish grandmother’s sewing room in eastern Connecticut. Anne Emlein’s Introduction to Machine Knitting course at the the Maine College of Art (MECA) transformed her path as an artist and Rose “hasn’t had a knit-free day since.” She earned her BFA from MECA in 2014, and currently teaches at MECA and throughout Portland.

“I am fascinated by the history of knitting and the concept of one continuous thread to make an entire garment. The medium lends itself to my exploration of my Finnish heritage and love for Scandinavian design. I see blending yarns on the knitting machine as another form of painting.” Rose Allard

Portland Mural Initiative image

Portland Mural Initiative

Tessa Greene O'Brien, MFA '16

I am a painter that is currently using traditional methods of oil on panel to explore themes of contemporary life, memory, and the formal properties of paint.

The Portland Mural Initiative aims to bring contemporary art into the public spaces of Portland and its surrounding areas. They work with emerging and established artists that have a strong connection to Maine, to create innovative murals and architectural interventions. They also aim to facilitate a dialogue between the artists and the communities in which the murals are located, through public meals and artist talks.

Tessa Greene O’Brien is one of the co-founders of Portland Mural Initiative. Tessa was born in midcoast Maine, and grew up surrounded by woods, fields, ocean, and artists. The landscape and the people continue to inspire her work.  She graduated from Skidmore College with a degree in studio art, and went on to spend the next 10 years traveling the country doing art production for music festivals. During this time she worked closely with teams of artists to design and implement many large scale murals, installations, and collaborative projects. She gained extensive experience managing volunteers, operating lifts, and overseeing project timelines and budgets. Today she lives and works in Portland, Maine, where she has a small specialty painting business, and is pursuing an MFA at Maine College of Art.

 

Essence of Form image

Essence of Form

Miles Spadone '12

Personally, my greatest challenge while at MECA was trying clarify how to best express my ideas.

Describe a body of work that you have made. I am interested in the essence of a form through a process of reduction. Void of decoration, the surface of my work is expressed like skin over ribs, where rigid meets languid. My work strives to suspend an emerging moment of transformation, the moment when impression and inflation clash. Like the instant before an object rips through taut plastic, water sheds off your hand, or bone protrudes through elastic skin, my work captures a tactile image of materials moving in opposition. Left-right, in-out, soft-hard, are simple but poignant moments in transformation. This work expresses the conflicting space in between.

What made you chose to go into your current field of art? I grew up in a woodshop but started working with clay in high school. At MECA, I was able to bridge the gap by working in the woodshop to prototype models for casting in clay. I now work in a clay studio above my fathers woodshop where Icontinue to utilize wood working techniques to guide my process.

How has your education at MECA shaped you as an artist? MECA acted and continues to act as a springboard for ideas and opportunities. As a student, MECA and the faculty worked to guide and focus my ideas and process. Personally, my greatest challenge while at MECA was trying clarify how to best express my ideas. My teachers worked diligently with me to help refine my scattered concepts and ambitions. By enacting method I was able to find a voice that more clearly expressed ideas through form and material.

What inspires you? I’m inspired by a lot— although I’m not sure my inspirations are what carry my practice. I try to put blinders on once I have a goal. Otherwise, I lose focus on the project in front of me.

What kind of career are you pursuing after your graduation? Right now I am working closely with a product designer. We work with companies looking to design a new product, innovate a process, or conduct an initial study on product viability in a market.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? Less advice and more leading/living by example. So many people have showed the value of community. If you continue to nurture those you love and live with/around, your life will be exponentially enriched. Invest in community and the return is immeasurable.

Confident in My Ability image

Confident in My Ability

Allison Bonin '16

While our department is growing steadily, I am enjoying its intimacy and pioneering spirit.

Describe a body of work that you are currently working on.
My current body of work is inspired by a pair of vintage Jell-O molds that were gifted to me over the summer. Like the Jell-O mold, I want these dresses and coats to be highly versatile. The refined designs can be replicated through many different types of fabrics, just like how the Jell-O mold can be filled with different fruits, flavors, and textures.

What’s your background? How has your education at MECA shaped you as an artist?
Sewing has always been a passion of mine, I starting making clothes for myself in high school; I wasn’t trained in the proper technical skills and I had no understanding of how expansive the fashion/textile design field was beyond simply making clothes for the runway, or owning my own business.

I entered MECA hoping to be an illustration major, and while drawing is still integral to my studio practice, I realize now that what I was designing were theatrical garments and costumes. The Textile and Fashion Design Program started the year I began as a freshman. I took the intro class on a whim and fell in love. Anne and the rest of the department welcomed me with open arms, and I found myself at home in the T&FD department. While our department is growing steadily, I am enjoying its intimacy and pioneering spirit; I have the freedom to explore and the benefit of a tight-knit community of majors who really support and care for each other. This past spring semester, I had an internship with the Portland Ballet, and dove into the world of costume and set design. I feel like I have truly found my life’s calling. I am focusing a lot of my energy on my major’s work to prepare for the thesis semester, as well as freelancing around town with costume designer Pamela Moulton.

My education at MECA has made me feel very confident in my ability to spread my wings and expand my practice when I graduate!

What inspires you?
I am heavily inspired by the costume designs of Leon Bakst of the Ballet Russe; I am not exclusive as to what inspires me. A dog I saw in the park, a bike ride, a new recipe, or a weird science fiction book I found on the side of the road; I am totally open and receptive to my environment and inspirations— it can happen anytime!

What do you hope to do after graduation?
After graduation I wish to pursue a career in costume design, focusing on working with performers from the circus, ballet, or the theatre.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
The best piece of advice I’ve ever received and would offer to a fellow artist is to make your practice your all-consuming passion; you have to be completely devoted and invested in what you want to do.

Intimate and Mysterious Connections image

Intimate and Mysterious Connections

Liz Long '14

It was a thrilling challenge to pull an entire of body of work together to share with so many people.

Describe a body of work that you have made.
I recently had my first solo show, Keepsakes, at Vestibule 594 in Portland. I painted a series of illustrative acrylic paintings on wood panels and created a mural surrounding the series of work. It was a thrilling challenge to pull an entire of body of work together to share with so many people. I wanted the series to show the intimate and mysterious connections that people have with different creatures and objects.

What’s your background?
I think my marriage to illustration started when I transferred to Philadelphia’s High School for the Creative and Performing Arts my junior year and it continued to solidify ever since. While there I worked with various mediums, but became the most involved with my illustration classes. Ever since then, I’ve come to love the quick problem solving nature that illustration has to offer and the boundaries it can break between fine art and the applied arts.

How has your education at MECA shaped you as an artist?
MECA offered me a very unique education where I was taught by illustrators who are still working in their chosen fields and who really knew what tools I needed as a student. My practice started to change as I got to know some of my past professors better after graduating. Mary Anne Lloyd and Scott Nash have continued to be wonderful outlets of support and seeing Jamie Hogan’s home illustration practice and overall beautiful outlook on life really helped me understand why It’s important to put so much time and honest effort into pursuing illustration full time. I have learned how important it is to make work everyday and to keep making connections with other artists.

What inspires you?
I am so inspired by everything childlike and silly and love collecting children’s books and toys. More so now than ever, I get a lot of ideas from the natural and man made landscapes I live in and have traveled to. I also love to read and have found that the more time I spend with other people’s stories, the more ready I am to make narrative work.

What kind of career are you pursuing after your graduation?
I realized after a year of taking on a lot of different freelance projects that what I really want to pursue is a career in creating children’s books, book covers and projects more closely related to the publishing side of illustration. I just finished a two month residency in Ireland preparing my portfolio in this new light. I also love painting murals and hope to work on more in the future whether they be community related, in homes and children’s rooms, or businesses.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? I can’t recall who the first person was to tell me, but I have taken it to heart to embrace being uncomfortable. I am the most inspired and the best version of myself when I put myself in situations I haven’t been in before. Whether it’s by traveling alone, trying out new painting techniques, or pursuing new relationships, I grow so much from it all.

Fantastical Realities image

Fantastical Realities

Iva Milovanovic '16

From my time spent in MECA I have learned persistency is very important, never to give up.

Describe a body of work that you are currently working on. My work explores the interactions of everyday experiences into sculptural representations of pleasure and absurdity, an insight into what I love and dread in other people. My sculptural installations incorporate clay and other materials such as wood, metal and fabric, into fantastical realities. Daily interactions resonate with my creativity where nothing and no one goes unnoticed or escapes.

What’s your background? I transferred to MECA from Faculty of Applied Arts Belgrade in 2014. I have a background in Graphic Design. During that time, I explored the world of illustration and design and when it was time to chose a medium to study I thought that clay was the perfect material to start with since I wanted to bring my illustrations in to three dimensions.

How has your education at MECA shaped you as an artist? From my time spent in MECA, I have learned persistency is very important, never to give up, and that I can always improve and move forward. At Maine College of Art, we are constantly reminded that there is more than one way to be a creative being in this world and that it is important to know what we really want to do.

What inspires you? Daily interactions resonate with my creativity into fantastical realities. Nothing and no one goes unnoticed, and nothing escapes my sketchbook. Feelings of pleasure, excitement and fear urge me to filter through these experiences and bring them to life. A friend wearing a ridiculous outfit, a lover with a hairy back, the temperament of a stranger, all coalesce as a combined caricature that acquires a new peculiar personality. The sculptures are pure pleasure combined with absurdity and represent me as much as what I love and repel in other people. When I draw and assemble my creatures, I take fragments of people’s physical and non-physical personalities, combine and transform them into things that I understand better. The truths behind these creatures are my own, while the physical sculptures are for the world to see. They are there to inspire and represent how I see you.

What do you hope to do after graduation? After graduation I hope to go to graduate school and get my MFA diploma. Eventually my biggest wish is to travel the world and create my fantastical realities in international galleries.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? Go big and use your greatest asset as an advantage.

 

Majors Exhibit Nationally image

Majors Exhibit Nationally

Mary Forst '16 & Betsy Lewis '16

Two Metalsmithing & Jewelry Design majors, Betsy Lewis ’16 and Mary Forst ’16, were accepted into national exhibitions. Betsy is exhibiting in Craft Forms 2015, dedicated to enhancing the public’s awareness of fine contemporary craft, while providing a venue for established and emerging artists to share their creative endeavors.  Both also exhibited in Form Forge Fabricate, the Southern Illinois Metalsmith’s 8th annual exhibition, which promotes metsalsmithing arts and features work by graduate and undergraduate students interested in metal as an artistic medium. Mary is also a finalist in the 2016 NICHE Awards student competition, hosted by NICHE Magazine.

“Wake Up Alice!” Exhibition image

“Wake Up Alice!” Exhibition

MECA Students, Alums, Faculty

Our Illustration students, alumni, faculty, and visiting artists include some of the most respected illustrators in the world.

This exhibition of contemporary illustration celebrated the 150th Anniversary of the publication of Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, as well as marked the 10th anniversary of the Illustration Program at MECA. Over the past decade, the Illustration Program has attracted some extraordinary talent to the school. Our students, alumni, faculty, and visiting artists include some of the most respected illustrators in the world. We invited some of these artists to create original works for this exhibit at the Portland Public Library in Portland, Maine.

Daelyne Bell ’13, Calef Brown (Former Professor), Sophie Cangelosi ’16, Cecil Cate ’15, Michael Connor (Professor), Kimberly Convery (attended), Miles Cook ’14, Hana Firestone ’14, Russell French (Portland School of Art Alum), Kiah Gardiner ’14, Nancy Gibson Nash (Nashbox), Mike Gorman (Former Professor), Taylor Grant ’15, Kevin Hawkes (former professor), Jamie Hogan (Professor), Hilary Irons (Professor), Judy LaBrasca (Professor), Chair of Illustration Mary Anne Lloyd, Liz Long ’14, Abbie Masso ’16, Emma McCabe ’15, Declan McCarthy ’14, Phoenix McNamara ’06, Daniel Minter (Professor), Taylor Mirabito ’16, Scott Nash (Professor, Nashbox, Show Curator), Alex Rheault (Professor), Peter Rimkunas ’13, Joe Rosshirt ’11, Lewis Rossignol ’17, Ted Smykal (Visiting Artist), Lori Stebbins ’11, Molly Steinmetz ’14, Rob Sullivan (Professor), Melissa Sweet (Visiting Artist), Matt Tavares (Former Professor), Chris Vales ’14, Scott Whitehouse ‘03

View artists work.