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Professional Development

Advance Studio and Professional Skills with Opportunities and Experiences Beyond the Classroom

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Public Engagement

Art for Social Change

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Alumni Opportunities

Resources, Alumni Exhibitions, and Residencies

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Artists at Work

Artists at Work: Covid-19 Update + Resources

You’ll put your creative problem solving skills to use in the classroom, in the vibrant city of Portland, and around the globe. Professional development is not a singular class in your last semester. Creating a meaningful career starts the day you enter MECA and continues throughout your life as an alum of the College.

Whether you want to be a studio artist, a commercial designer, an educator, or an arts administrator, you’ll take away skills that translate into a variety of career choices. Artists at Work provides connections to internships, jobs, commissions, professional development opportunities, community partners, and residencies.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 65% of America’s school children will eventually be employed in jobs that have yet to be created. An arts education teaches skills for a new, entrepreneurial economy: critical thinking, creative problem solving, risk-taking, collaboration, and innovation.

What Our Alumni Do With Art Degrees
  • Artist-in-Residence, Design Studio for Social Intervention
  • Art Teacher, North Yarmouth Academy
  • Chief Operating Officer, United Way
  • Creative Director, Peabody Essex Museum
  • Curator, Issue Project Room
  • Design Editor, L.L. Bean
  • Digital Creative Director, Anthropologie
  • Director of Massive Change, Bruce Mau Design
  • Effects Animator, Walt Disney
  • Executive Director, Indochina Arts Partnership
  • Founder, Pickwick Independent Press
  • Game Designer, Self-employed
  • Graphic Designer, Cole Haan
  • International Projects Manager, Art Bospherous International Modern Art Fair
  • Marketing Design Director, Wired Magazine
  • Master Printer, Wingate Studios
  • Professor, Stanford University
  • Publication Designer, Smithsonian American Art Museum
  • Registrar, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
  • Vice-President for Design, Hasbro

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Artists at Work Stories

View all Artists at Work Stories

Meet The Team

The heart of an art education is the studio process to gain knowledge as a maker. In addition, students develop as critical thinkers, risk-takers, and problem-solvers in the world. We connect students to opportunities to apply these skills in their creative careers.

Jessica Tomlinson Director of Artists at Work
Meet The Team
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The Laughter Life

Juliet Werner (Salt ’06)

Juliet Werner (Salt ’06), a Senior Segment Producer at the Daily Show with Trevor Noah, took some time to discuss her new feature documentary film, The Laughter Life, and share some reflections on her life after Salt.

Can you tell us a bit about this new project, The Laughter Life?
This is my first time directing a documentary feature. I work full time as a producer for The Daily Show on Comedy Central, but was able to use our hiatuses to pursue this independent project. I had the help of family members. My dad edited. My brother wrote the score. And my cousin did the artwork. I am not Mormon, but was intrigued by the idea that Provo, Utah and specifically Brigham Young University, had produced this group of irreverent young people who were pursuing carers in something as unpredictable as television comedy. The synopsis below will help explain.

The Laughter Life follows a week in the life of the young comedians who write and star in Studio C, a popular sketch comedy television show that has garnered over 1 billion views on YouTube. But theirs is not your typical comedy success story, as the cast and crew behind the program are practicing Mormons living in the deeply observant community of Provo, Utah. And the network producing their show is BYUtv, a religiously-oriented network run by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Laughter Life introduces the viewer to a world few have visited and demonstrates the unifying power of comedy.

How can we see the film and keep up with your work?

Can you give us a taste of what you’ve been up to since Salt?

Juliet Werner (Salt ’06)

I studied nonfiction writing at Salt in Fall of ’06 and took the week-long multimedia course in the summer of ’14. I am now a senior segment producer on The Daily Show With Trevor Noah. Other comedy credits include The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, UCB Comedy, and The Onion. I’ve also done some writing since Salt, working as a reporter for The Queens Tribune. And I spent several years volunteering for Girls Write Now, a creative writing and mentoring organization that works with high school students in NYC.

What have been your biggest takeaways from your time at Salt?
Interviewing! How to prepare and order questions. How to be present. How to get into a comfortable groove with the person you’re talking to.

And structuring the story. What do my subjects want? What are the obstacles they face? Where should we leave them in the story?

And field work: how do I spend my time to ensure that I get a variety of scenes and see the subjects operating in a variety of settings?

Remember, too: your project will have many versions— many drafts or cuts. At Salt you learn how to stick with the process, and take notes from peers. This has really stayed with me.

Are there any stories by Salt alums that you’ve been particularly excited to see out in the world?
My classmate Maisie Crow just won an Emmy for her film Jackson!

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For the Love of Life & Art

Amanda Albanese MAT ’18

Collaborate with your cohort, try to stay calm under the pressure, and remember we are all here for the love of life and art.

Meet Amanda Albanese. MAT ’18 graduate originally from Rhode Island. Amanda had a job offer from a private school in California locked in weeks before the MAT graduation day in May. We chatted with Amanda at the start of her position as the new photography teacher & photo department head:

Where do you live?
San Juan Capistrano, CA

What are you doing for work now?
Photography and Studio Art Teacher, Freshman Advisor, and Assistant Cross Country Coach at St. Margaret’s Episcopal School, San Juan Capistrano, CA

Are there any current projects, students or lessons you are very excited about?
Yes: Advanced Photography students created cover art for the recent production of Animal Farm by our theatre team. Students brainstormed ideas, worked with production teams and organized and edited in Lightroom and Photoshop post-production. We submitted cover art proposals and student artwork will be included on the production bill play, sweatshirts, and promotional posters. We are now starting a unit on Transformation and will be looking at artists such as Cindy Sherman, Alexa Meade, Jeff Gordon and others who blur the line between fiction and reality in their artwork.

Introduction to Photography and Physics departments will team up to work on a light unit project concerning the full spectrum of light (ultraviolet to infrared)

Preschool/High School Intergenerational project- AP and Advanced Photography students will work with educational teams and hopefully AP Psychology to merge pedagogical documentation and photography in this year-long documentation project in the Preschool. Student artwork will be included in the Preschool’s Reggio inspired end of year show ” Works of Wonder”.

Our art department is going to Adobe MAX in October and I am really excited about that. There are so many new advancements that merge art and technology that to have the opportunity to visit and explore emerging ideas and products at the convention is really exciting.

I just printed my first C-print…ever! WHAT! color film printing is a true gift at such a poignant time as we continue to transition to new technologies. I feel lucky to now have the opportunity to print with the last color darkroom in LA.

In what capacity has the MAT program prepared you most for this work?
Collaboration, technology, and interdisciplinary skills.

Has your life changed after graduation?
Majorly. MECA opened new doors for me that have changed the entire course of my future. Since MECA I drove across the country, settled into a totally new environment in southern CA, and began shooting in film again.

In what ways has it stayed the same?
I still blend work and life pretty much daily.

Do you keep in touch with anyone from MAT?
Yes a few, I just reached out to a cohort member today (other than this interview). I write letters to my mentor teacher and we text each other as well. It’s hard to balance making new connections with moving on.

Are you practicing art? 
Yes, I have been working on a painting series that began in Portland, ME. that started at Portland Pride, 2018. I was so overwhelmed by the positive connections I found when photographing Pride this summer that I wanted to continue it into a painting series (still at the beginning stages.) I am also developing some film photography. I am a member at a community darkroom in my area and just started printing at a color film lab. Alternative process and pinhole camera revisits are next on my list.

Why did you decide to get your MAT at MECA?
Small, coastal, artistic, historic.

Why should a prospective student choose MECA’s MAT?
It will prepare you for everything you will need to know or want to know.

What advice do you have for prospective MAT students?
Collaborate with your cohort, try to stay calm under the pressure, and remember we are all here for the love of life and art.

What resources, tools, or organizations have you found helpful throughout your career thus far?

  • Google Drive assets (classroom, sites, and forms especially for education)
  • Adobe Suite and Adobe Blog
  • Online resources: Art of education, the cult of pedagogy, Edutopia, the Getty, ArtsEdge, Art21, Project Zero, JSTOR
  • Research and library resources with periodicals available
  • Hardcopy Artbook monographs
  • Attending art shows and fairs (Sawdust in Laguna Beach was local and interesting)
  • Museum visits
  • A lively artistic practice and taking risks in the studio (helps students too)
  • Getting out of your comfort zone: Going to new places for ideas and experiences
  • Local workshops and open studios: The Irvine Art Center in Irvine, CA and Contact Photo Lab in Los Angeles, CA
  • AP Studio Art College Board workshops. Going to one this weekend in Costa Mesa, CA.

MECA’s MAT program is: “intense and authentic”. Portland is: “unique”.

Learn more about Amanda on her website.

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Full Circle

Mattea Weinberg BFA ’17 MAT ’18

One of the biggest changes occurred when applying for jobs. I took the opportunity to relocate. I was not expecting that it would bring me back to New York, my birth state, to teach in the school I grew up in.

Mattea Weinberg, a MECA graduate from the BFA and MAT Programs tells us a bit about her journey and how it feels as a new teacher in New York fresh out of MAT.

What are you doing for work now?
I am currently working at Brown School, a private school in upstate New York. It is actually the school I had attended from Pre-K all the way up to 8th. They now teach high school too! I currently teach 4th grade to high school.

Are there any current projects, students or lessons you are very excited about?
I am excited about all of my upcoming projects! I just finished a Where’s Waldo piece that includes everyone from 4th through high school and some teachers. This really allowed me to see strengths within my students and where they might need help! It was a great assessment! I am also really excited for my 5th graders because they are starting a Surrealism unit, my 7th graders are beginning individual maps and my 8th graders are beginning Kehinde Wiley inspired self-portraits. I have really been enjoying bringing contemporary artists into the classroom!

In what capacity has the MAT program prepared you most for this work?
MECAs MAT program really allowed me to experience the workload of a school teacher, managing multiple different grade levels at a time and being able to think of lessons on the spot!

MECA’s MAT program is: “the best thing you could do, if you want to pursue your dream of being a teacher. Within weeks you notice that anything is possible and that you can do it!”

Portland is: “my home. After living there for 6 years Portland has dug a hole deep within my heart. And I am excited to return for holidays and for summer vacation.”

In what ways has your life changed after graduation?
One of the biggest changes occurred when applying for jobs. I took the opportunity to relocate. I was not expecting that it would bring me back to New York, my birth state, to teach in the school I grew up in.

In what ways has it stayed the same?
A lot of my life is the same, I’m still very passionate about teaching, I draw weekly and I live with my cat. Nothing could be better!

Do you keep in touch with MAT folks?
I do keep in touch with some of my cohort, not as often as when we were in the Masters program together. A lot of us also follow each other on Instagram so we can see what everyone is doing! I also am living in the same town as another cohort member who is teaching at a neighbor school so we often exchange ideas!

Are you practicing art?
I am making art, not as often as daily anymore but I am making art whenever I have free time. Right now I am working on a theme for 9 days. I am also constantly creating in my classroom. I make all my signs before the projects with my students!

Why did you decide to get your MAT at MECA?
I decided to pursue the MAT at MECA for a couple of reasons. The first one being that I graduated from MECA with a BFA in Illustration and a minor in Public Engagement. Over every summer I also taught for the Continuing Studies division of MECA and I always loved being a TA. At MECA, you are constantly learning and improving yourself. So it just felt natural to get a Master of Arts in Teaching at the college I love so much!

Why should a prospective student choose MECA’s MAT?
The MAT professors know what they are doing. They have been in the field and are great leaders.

What advice do you have for prospective MAT students?
Remember yourself, why you are doing this and who you are as an individual.

What resources, tools, or organizations have you found helpful throughout your career thus far?
To be honest the other teachers within my school. One reason why I wanted to teach at a private school was that the teachers form a bond. You are a team and everyone is there to help out.

View Mattea’s fantastical illustrations on MECA’s portfolio page

Follow @mattea.w to see some incredible daily insect drawings on Instagram.

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Everything is New

Samara Yandell MAT ’18

MECA has an amazing reputation, and the 10 month time commitment was perfect for a non traditional student like me. I had to leave my career to go back to school, and taking off more than 10 months would not have been financially possible. MECA’s MAT program is one of the best decisions I have ever made. Portland is my home, but is no longer the only important community in Maine to me.

Samara (Sam) Yandell graduated from MECA’s MAT program in 2018. She is an artist, educator, activist, mother, and life-long Portland community member. Before MAT, she worked at the non-profit Portland Stage as their Director of Development while pioneering many theatre art workshops for kids. Sam was hired the summer after graduating to teach 3-D art at Biddeford Middle School. We caught up with Sam early in her first school year to see how things were going:

Are there any current projects, students or lessons you are very excited about?
Everything is new and exciting to me right now, but in particular my 6th graders are starting a unit called Powerful Puppets inspired by Ashley Bryan’s amazing puppets. We are discussing the meaning of power and exploring how it can be visually represented in a puppet. I am also working with the other teachers in the district to plan the district wide art show, which is being hosted by the middle school. I have volunteered to plan and create a collaborative installation for the school foyer, so that’s a thrilling and daunting project on the horizon.

In what capacity has the MAT program prepared you most for this work?
I have felt extremely well prepared, especially around lesson planning and standards based assessment. Both the course work and my teaching internships were immersive and challenging, and ultimately left me feeling ready to take over my own classroom.

In what ways has your life changed after graduation?
I am a commuter now, and have to get up earlier than I’d like. It can be hard to find time to fit in some of the things that I enjoy, but I’m hoping that once I get more settled I’ll find more time for the things outside of work that are important to me.

In what ways has it stayed the same?
I still love living in Portland, but working in a new community has really opened my eyes. I have been so Portland-centric for most of my adult life, but it is exciting to have a whole new community to explore and learn about.

Do you keep in touch with your cohort? Your professors and/or mentor teachers?
Not as much as I’d like. The other middle school teachers and I share resources and text occasionally. I think we are all too busy for much social activity, plus many of us moved for great jobs elsewhere.

Are you practicing art?
I am not making as much of my own art as I’d like to, but I did experiment with more printmaking this summer while working at a summer camp on the beach. I made gelatin prints of seaweed, then added layers of silkscreened text over the multilayered monoprints. The effect is like looking down into a tide pool, and captures the positive and negative natural shapes and textures of various Maine seaweeds, contrasted with bold hand cut silkscreened text.

Why did you decide to get your MAT at MECA?
MECA has an amazing reputation, and the 10 month time commitment was perfect for a non traditional student like me. I had to leave my career to go back to school, and taking off more than 10 months would not have been financially possible. MECA’s MAT program is one of the best decisions I have ever made. Portland is my home, but is no longer the only important community in Maine to me.

Why should a prospective student choose MECA’s MAT?
The reputation, the job placement rate, the connections, and the incredible creative environment.

What advice do you have for prospective MAT students?
Enjoy every minute of your time at MECA, it is an incredible institution full of amazing young artists. Take advantage of the opportunities to learn and explore, don’t forget you are a student as well as a teacher in training!

What resources, tools, or organizations have you found helpful throughout your career thus far?
Art of Ed podcasts on my way to work, I keep going back to my coursework and lesson plans from our time at MECA for ideas and troubleshooting. I also follow certain hashtags on social media and have some middle school blogs that I enjoy. The Middle School Art Teachers Facebook page is also a great resource.

You can view Sam’s Seaweed prints along with many other Maine art educators’ artwork hanging in the current MAEA show; opening reception on October 5th 2018, 4pm-6pm at MECA.

Learn more about Samara on her website.

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I Let My Curiosity Lead Me

Morrigan McCarthy ’07

I let my curiosity lead me.

How did you learn about Salt?
A photographer friend in Portland took me to the final show of the 2006 fall semester, when the photography was still black and white film! I had been shooting some weddings and portraits locally and thought that was going to be my career, but within 10 minutes of walking into that gallery I knew I wanted to be a journalist. I met Donna and some of the instructors and they encouraged me to apply. The rest is history.

What was your Creative and Career Path?
a. 0-2 years after graduation.
I went straight from Salt graduation to the Maine Media Workshops, where I spent the summer as a teaching assistant. In fall of 2007 I attended the Eddie Adams Workshop and used my connections from there and from MMW to get some freelance assisting gigs in and around New York City. I knew so little about the industry at that point, but through assisting photographers with even mundane-seeming things like organizing their archives and gear, driving them to shoots and helping them write emails, I got a better sense of how the world of photojournalism/documentary worked and what it would take to do it professionally.

b. 3-5 years after graduation.
My partner at the time and fellow photographer, Alan Winslow, and I wrote some grants and got corporate sponsorship to do a long-term project that would be turned into a touring show. We completed it, and then began planning a second one.

c. 5-10 years after graduation.
We did the second project, which took us three years to complete, and then turned it into a public art show. When we returned from traveling we lectured and shared the project widely, and after moving back to New York City, I began picking up some freelance photography work- starting through a connection I made at Salt! In 2015 I started at the New York Times as a photo editor, and that’s still what I’m doing today!

How would you describe the story of your professional path?
I would say that my professional path hasn’t been conventional or particularly straightforward, but I’ve always thrown myself into projects and ideas that I love, and tried to tell stories the best I can. I let my curiosity lead me, and tried to be open to the experiences.

What resources, tools, or organizations have you found helpful throughout your career?
There is no substitute for making friends in your field. It can be easy to slide into a place where you feel competitive with other photographers, but finding some folks that you trust and with whom you can openly share career information (like, how much did you get paid for that gig? What was that editor like to work with?) is absolutely the best resource out there. Plus, those are the people who will understand when you go through lows, be your cheerleaders when things are going well, and you’ll all be elevated for the relationship.

How did your experience at Salt help you find your first position after graduation?
Salt instructors were the ones who encouraged me to apply for the position at Maine Media Workshops! I’m sure I wouldn’t have even applied if it weren’t for Neil and Kate and Donna.

What would you look for if you were in a position to hire new graduates from Salt at MECA?
I would look for new graduates with a good eye for unique composition, solid technical skills and the ability to sniff out a good story. So many stories feel recycled- I love seeing new ways of telling old stories, or completely fresh-feeling stories about things that could have been ho-hum.

What advice might you have for current Salt students? For new Salt alumni?
Honestly, journalism is tough. You have to really love what you do and be willing to put in the time and effort. Don’t get frustrated. Stay humble. There is always more to learn and you can always make yourself better. Trust your gut and keep telling good, important stories truthfully as long as the medium inspires you.

Find more of Morrigan’s work here.

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MECA Students Embrace Real-World Projects

MECA Students Embrace Real-World Projects

What happens to history when stories are lost? And what is the artist’s role in saving and sharing stories? Students in Documentary Storytelling, a class taught by MECA Adjunct Instructor of Foundation Matt Frassica, worked through these questions while learning techniques for storytelling, narrative, and engagement in a partnership with the Abyssinian Meeting House on Newbury Street in Portland, Maine. This Second-Year Lab class, which is part of MECA’s Public Engagement curriculum, continued a long-term project and podcast in conjunction with the Abyssinian. As Professor Frassica described, “This oral history project is greater than just this class—it’s a means of connecting to the Maine African American experience, making sure the stories are heard, preserved, and honored.”

The third-oldest African American meeting house in the country, the Abyssinian was built in 1828 as a church and also served as a school and a concert hall before closing in 1917. Its members included abolitionists and leaders of the Underground Railroad. Students collected stories from the Committee for the Restoration of the Abyssinian as well as members of the African American community in greater Portland. In early October, the students —newly equipped with an understanding of story structure and the tools for engaging subjects—took a tour of the Abyssinian and began to ask questions. Frassica said the students had a profound experience: they were poignantly affected by the layers of history in the house and in their community. One student remarked that the Abyssinian was “one of the most peaceful places” they’d ever been. Others said they could really feel the presence of history. The building is currently in the process of being renovated and rebuilt; one can see these historical layers in the structure itself.

“There are not a lot of forms in which students and young people can connect to older people and ask them questions about their lives and experiences. It’s really valuable to create these kinds of connections,” Frassica noted. “Art students are learning how to use themselves as a source. This project allows students to make connections to a wider community. They’re able to use these skills of seeing themselves as part of something greater in this project in particular, but are also able to carry that knowledge forward as both citizens and artists in their own work.” Through a mix of practical skills and civic engagement, the students come away with a greater understanding of the Abyssinian’s impressive significance—for themselves and for their audiences. Their work will culminate in collected oral histories and live storytelling events in early 2018.

Other classes also developed community partnerships for studio-based learning. The students in Design Studio, a class taught by Adjunct Instructor of Graphic Design Drew Hodges, partnered with several organizations. Linked through the Maine Association for Nonprofits, MECA’s Graphic Design majors worked primarily with 501(c)3 organizations that had budgets under $100,000 on posters, branding, and typography projects. This connection served nonprofits who otherwise might not be able to afford specialty design services while providing students with real-world experience working with clients. Kirk Simpson ’18 reflected that the class was “both incredibly rewarding and challenging at the same time. Each student tears each project down, finding out what the audience’s needs are, what the client’s needs are, and what our own imaginations can bring.”

Drew pushed us beyond the design aesthetic and made us tap directly into the emotional connection each project and community partner needed. – Kirk Simpson ’18

Hodges founded Spot Design in 1987, which was followed by the launch of SpotCo, an innovative full-service entertainment advertising agency that has done branding work for large Broadway shows such as Rent and Hamilton. He said he modeled the class “on a working design studio with the students as designers and myself as creative director. Not every project is a nonprofit, but most are. Jessica Tomlinson, director of Artists at Work at MECA, has been a great help: she connected us with the nonprofits in Maine. We began by working on a 1984 reading for the organization One Book, Many Conversations. Next, we did a membership outreach for the Center for Maine Contemporary Art in Rockland. Finally, we moved forward with a poster for the D.L. Geary Brewing Company—with which MECA has a 16-year involvement—and worked with the Frannie Peabody Center for World AIDS Day on December 1.”

One Book, Many Conversations, a nationwide initiative that encourages dialogue by rooting it in the reading of a specific book, chose George Orwell’s 1984 for the 2017 project. The University of New England, the local sponsor for the project, selected Simpson’s design for the Southern Maine One Book, Many Conversations 1984 poster. Simpson attributed this success, in part, to his professor: “Drew pushed us beyond the design aesthetic and made us tap directly into the emotional connection each project and community partner needed. Through imagery and a strong attention to typography—and how it activated emotions—Drew brought his years of experience right to the core of what every student needed and how each one of us could successfully deliver a winning design.”

Jenna Crowder ’09 is an artist who works in installation, curating, and writing. She earned her BFA in Sculpture at MECA and has worked internationally on public and collaborative art projects. Jenna is currently a member of the Portland Public Art Committee and is a member artist at Pickwick Independent Press. She is the co-founding editor of the online arts journal The Chart. 


Header: Drew Hodges, adjunct instructor of Graphic Design, leads a critique of posters in his Design Studio class. Photo by Kyle Dubay ’18.

Images Above, Top to Bottom:

Dennis Ross, president of WJZP 107.9, a local jazz radio station, was interviewed by students as part of MECA’s Documentary Storytelling class. Photo by Tia Doering ’20.

Students in Drew Hodges’ Design Studio class also worked with him on a rebranding project for WJZP. Jill Duson, who serves on the Portland City Council, was interviewed by students as part of MECA’s Documentary Storytelling class. Photo by Candice Gosta ’20.

This One Book, Many Conversations 1984 poster, designed by Kirk Simpson ’18, was selected to promote local community programming for the initiative.

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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

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Beyond Borders: Art and Activism

Aaron Staples '08

Art is a lens to look at issues that are too complex to examine in words.

Aaron Staples ’08, who grew up in Maine and earned his BFA from MECA in Graphic Design, worked with Greenpeace to create art for their “Not Just Tuna” campaign that demonstrates the environmental destruction implicit in commercial tuna fishing, which includes destructive fishing methods and exploitive and unsafe working conditions for the fishermen.

As part of the campaign, Aaron was commissioned to create large paintings in the Sumi-e style, using black ink made from lamp soot. In a Bangor Daily News article about the project, Aaron said, “It’s really an honor. I’m very proud to be able to lend my small voice to this larger campaign in a meaningful way.”

His process and work were featured on a blog post entitled “4 Reasons Art is Essential to Activism,” which quoted some of Aaron’s thoughts about the project: ““Regardless of what language they speak, people can feel the emotion. That’s why art can be such a powerful tool to translate these ideas across a range of audiences. They’re responding specifically — and very viscerally — to what they’re seeing.”

“Risk is a large part of making art. What you’re doing is essentially opening yourself up and putting your thoughts, ideas and way of responding to the world on display for people to come and look at. You don’t know if people will embrace it … I think it’s the same for artists and activists: there’s a compulsion. There’s this innate drive to do what it is you need to do. We have to react, so we get over the fear of failure.”

In the BDN article, Molly Dorozenski, from Greenpeace, said, “We were immediately taken with his ability to distill complex ideas into beautiful and captivating visual stories. Because the Not Just Tuna campaign shows how current methods of fishing tuna impact both the diversity of marine life and the humans who are working in terrible conditions, we knew we needed a special artist to be able to illustrate that complexity. Furthermore, our campaign is global, but Aaron’s images don’t need to be translated — they tell the entire story of the campaign in images.”