Watch This Space: Expressions of Queer Ecology by Maine College of Art & Design Alumni on view June 3 - October 30, 2022

Maine College of Art & Design partners with Historic New England to explore queer ecology

Benjamin Spalding MFA '17, Mango Dreamer, Mixed media sculpture, 18”x 18” x 12”, 2021.

PORTLAND, ME —June 3, 2022— Maine College of Art & Design (MECA&D) is pleased to announce today’s exhibition opening of Watch This Space: Expressions of Queer Ecology at the Sarah Orne Jewett House Museum in South Berwick, Maine. The exhibition was thoughtfully created in collaboration with Historic New England.

Watch This Space, which commences at the start of Pride Month and will remain on view through October 30, seeks to challenge the assumptions of the heteronormative, consumeristic exploitation of nature, the consumerism driven by dualistic thinking, and the human yardstick of value. The juried exhibition features the work of six MECA&D alumni, including: Kyle Hardy ’21; Lindsay Mercer ’21; olivier ’19; Mai Snow ’13; Prof. Benjamin Spalding MFA ’17; and Shel Stefan MFA ’06. 

“What excites me about this partnership is the element of surprise,” said Jessica Tomlinson, Director of Artists at Work at MECA&D. “I think this will hold true for visitors to the museum when they see contemporary art juxtaposed against the traditional setting."

The setting for Watch This Space may be surprising, yet it is also very fitting for this theme of artistic discourse. While from the outside, one might see a historical house steeped in tradition and Victorian-era opulence, this was the home of Maine-based writer Sarah Orne Jewett (1849-1909) who wrote A Marsh Island, regarded by some scholars as the first gay American novel. In 1902, confiding in companion Annie Fields that she felt like “the last wild thing left in the fields,” Jewett nods to an innate aversion to traditional societal roles that surfaced at an early age and shows reverence to the natural world. 

Watch This Space, in its artists’ exploration of queer ecology in painting, mixed media sculpture, and video, is a natural extension of the work Jewett conceived in her home more than a century ago. The exhibition fits within the historic walls of the museum in a deep and meaningful way that provides a space for reflecting upon past assumptions and work to be done.

“This exhibition has been a joy—the vitality, tremendous talent, and the level of skill evident in these artists’ works and the wonderful partnership with Maine College of Art & Design,” stated Marilyn Keith Daly, Historic New England South Berwick Site Manager. “The staff are really committed to their roles and to their students and alumni.”

The public is welcomed to explore this exhibition at Sarah Orne Jewett House Museum Friday to Sunday, 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Watch This Space Events

  • Opening Reception: Friday, June 3, 6:00-8:00pm
  • Gallery Talk: Saturday, September 10, 5:30-7:00pm
  • Virtual Gallery Talk: October 2022 (details to come)

This exhibition was made possible in part by a donation to Historic New England’s Sarah Orne Jewett House Museum by The Fabulous Find Resale Boutique. 

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Maine College of Art & Design (MECA&D, pronounced "Maine College of Art and Design”) has been activating students of all pursuits to make art, make an impact, and inspire change since its founding as Portland School of Art in 1882. Located in Portland's thriving Arts District, students have access to state-of-the-art facilities, 24-hour-a-day studios, a 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio, and a community-based Artists at Work program—making MECA&D the right-sized school in the right-sized city for every student who wants to make their mark and be seen. MECA&D offers BFA Majors and Minors, Graduate Programs, Continuing Studies, Pre-College, and includes the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies and the Institute for Contemporary Art. Follow us at @mecaart.


Jacqui Walpole
Director of External Affairs