Maine College of Art Begins 2017/18 Academic Year with New Leadership, Programs, Facilities, Faculty, and Tradition

Over 500 Students from Around the World Convene at MECA to Become Educated Artists for Life

Maine College of Art recently welcomed more than 500 aspiring professional artists, designers, and storytellers to campus from as far away as Hong Kong to begin the new academic year. On Thursday, August 31, MECA’s 18th President Laura Freid addressed the student body for her first convocation exercise.

“At MECA, we are a community with shared values, we know the importance of understanding something deeply and sharing generously,” said President Freid. “Today we are focusing on the importance of embracing the unknown, creating a strong work ethic, and finding the balance between intuition and intellect.”

A new convocation tradition was born on Thursday as MECA faculty formed a welcome passageway for students to walk through as a symbolic ushering in of the academic year ahead. Several faculty members were selected to share personal insights along with wisdom from John Cage’s ‘10 Rules for Students and Teachers.’


Photography credit to Kyle Dubay ’18

Kyle Patnaude, Assistant Professor of Metalsmithing & Jewelry, urged students to “be self disciplined. . . this means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way . . . to be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.” Printmaking Studio Technician and Professor Colleen Kinsella encouraged students to “pull everything out of your teacher. . . and pull everything out of your fellow students.” Annie Avilés, recently appointed Chair of the new Salt Institute for Documentary Studies at MECA reminded students “not to create and analyze at the same time. . .[as] they are different processes.”

Convocation also marked the official welcome of 19 students enrolled in the first ever Salt Institute for Documentary Studies at MECA cohort. Chaired by former NPR foreign correspondent and award-winning radio maker, writer, and editor, Annie Avilés, Salt at MECA is also excited to announce two new faculty members: Yoon S. Byun as Visiting Instructor of Short Film and Photography and Colin Cheney as Guest Writing Instructor.

MECA’s facilities footprint continues to expand with the recent acquisition of Studio 380 Cumberland. This 14,000 square-foot space is only one block away from MECA’s flagship Porteous building and serves as a dedicated location for MECA’s MFA cohort, along with providing additional room for other programs such as Foundation, Painting, and Drawing.

MECA’s newest residence hall, 117 Preble Street, located in the historic Schlotterbeck and Foss building, will help to meet the growing demand for student housing by accommodating almost 50 upperclassman. This John Calvin Stevens building was recently completely renovated into apartments while maintaining key architectural attributes.

Recently appointed Chair and Assistant Professor of the Fashion & Textile Design Program, Alysha Kupferer said, “I could not be more excited to join the faculty at MECA and to lead this distinctive program that combines textiles knowledge with design for the body. As chair I aim to align the Textile & Fashion Design Program with MECA’s core principles of civic engagement and creative entrepreneurship to build a unique program with an ethical core.”

While addressing parents and students on move-in day, President Laura Freid expressed her belief about why investing in the arts has never been more imperative. She said, “Art gives us meaning and identity, helping us reflect on and shape our lives; it is fundamental to our well-being. That is why I believe providing artists with the education they need to succeed is such a critical and vital mission.”

For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact Raffi Der Simonian (rdersimonian@meca.edu or 207.699.5010).