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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

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

Learn More About


Artists at Work Stories

View all Artists at Work Stories
  • Bluestocking Film Series

    Faculty Kate Kaminski
    Read Story
  • Intern Profile: Elizabeth Dee Gallery, NYC

    Meg Hahn '17
    Read Story
  • The Art of Music: Seeing Sound at MECA

    Bob Crewe Program in Art and Music
    Read Story
  • Anne Emlein + Rose Allard ’14 Win 2016 CAP Apprenticeship

    Faculty Anne Emlein + Faculty Rose Allard '14
    Read Story
  • Time, Energy, and Attention

    MFA Faculty Adriane Herman
    Read Story
  • Faculty Reviewed on Hyperallergic

    MFA Faculty Joshua Reiman
    Read Story
  • Portland Mural Initiative

    Tessa Greene O'Brien, MFA '16
    Read Story
  • Curator

    Faculty Steve Halpert
    Read Story

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
Bluestocking Film Series image

Bluestocking Film Series

Faculty Kate Kaminski

Kate Kaminski, Adjunct Instructor of Academic Studies, is founder and artistic director of the Bluestocking Film Series, recognized by Down East Magazine’s editors in their Best of Maine Culture section. The series was also mentioned in Ann Hornaday’s Summer Preview in The Washington Post, and Marie Claire magazine listed Bluestocking number two in “The Things We Love About July” in 2015. More recently, a curated selection of the Best of the Bluestocking Film Series played during the #SeeHerNow World Weekend of Women in Film in Stockholm and at the LadyBug Festival in Göteborg, both in Sweden.

Bluestocking Film Series is an exclusive showcase for provocative, well-produced films that feature complex female protagonists driving the narrative and leading the action. The only film event in the world to require female protagonists, submissions must also pass the Bechdel-Wallace Test (see below for ‘the rules’).”

View Bluestocking Film Series website.

Intern Profile: Elizabeth Dee Gallery, NYC image

Intern Profile: Elizabeth Dee Gallery, NYC

Meg Hahn '17

Of the objectives I intended to learn while interning at Elizabeth Dee (the daily operations of a contemporary art gallery, the process of putting together an exhibition, and how the art market works), I was taught a tremendous amount about all three and much more.

By being involved in the gallery’s administrative aspects, I was able to not only work but witness, as well, how the multiple functions of a gallery come together. This included the gallery’s maintenance, archive, shipping, storage, sales, finances, and press. In terms of how an exhibition comes together, I observed and worked on tasks that were needed before, during, and after a show ended. To name a few, this involved the physical planning and layout of a show, how the gallery obtains these works, the promotion/press of a show, and how art is sold.

Additionally, I became much more aware of the contemporary art market in particular, and how art fairs function. I gained knowledge about the variety of contemporary art institutions and how they can be broken down into sub­categories like for-profit and nonprofit and public and private collections, and how works are bought and sold. I was also informed on the preparation and aftermath of the gallery’s participation in art fairs.

The Art of Music: Seeing Sound at MECA image

The Art of Music: Seeing Sound at MECA

Bob Crewe Program in Art and Music

I strongly believe in creativity and how different art forms interact to create something unique. I believe my brother Bob’s career demonstrates this in a powerful way. The Bob Crewe Foundation and Maine College of Art are embarking on something really special and original in academia by blending the two areas with an evolutionary design. — Trustee Dan Crewe

The fusion of music and art at MECA is a match made in heaven, or at least in Newark, New Jersey, where Bob Crewe grew up. The path from Newark to Portland, Maine, may seem unlikely, but serendipity works in mysterious ways. Because of the extraordinary career of Bob Crewe, and his brother Dan’s generosity, the Bob Crewe Program in Art and Music is now an integral and uniquely innovative part of the MECA experience.

Dan Crewe has served on MECA’s Board of Trustees since 2011. Dan is the devoted brother of Bob Crewe, the writer/producer of many of the American rock and pop group The Four Seasons’ greatest hits: “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”—to name only a few. Bob also wrote songs that were later covered by Bob Dylan, Michael Jackson, Herman’s Hermits, and Roberta Flack. Bob’s protean talent as a songwriter and sound studio wizard has long been recognized and celebrated in America’s professional music scene, and Dan wanted to honor Bob and preserve his legacy by nurturing young musicians.

Through Dan’s friendship with MECA’s president, Don Tuski, and their shared vision for a music program at MECA, a unique opportunity for MECA was born. Dan donated an unprecedented $3 million to MECA to institute a music minor option for MECA students. Along with funding a state-of-the-art sound studio, music practice rooms, and classrooms, Dan Crewe’s gift from the Bob Crewe Foundation has also created the Bob Crewe Gallery, featuring artifacts and
memorabilia from Bob’s life and career.

When Dan Crewe and President Don Tuski presented the fledgling program to the public at a news conference in 2013, Dan set a compelling and modest tone of inspired philanthropy. “There is no agenda,” Dan said, “no preconceived direction. Let MECA’s future artist-musicians create the program and take it wherever their creative genius leads.”

The connection between art and music, specifically art students and musicians, has long been known, if only haphazardly reported. Some of the 20th century’s most iconic pop stars originally went to art school, eventually blasting off into music but never abandoning their artistic skills and practice: John Lennon (painting), Jerry Garcia (illustration), Freddie Mercury (graphic design), Pete Townshend (graphic design), Kanye West (visual arts), Rob Zombie (visual arts), and Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull (fine arts), to name only a small fraction of the more recognizable names. The art/music crossover is so obvious that it has frequently been missed.

Bob Crewe himself went to Parsons School of Design in NYC and his visual art practice was an inspiration for his music. Besides his brilliant music career, Bob designed a number of album covers and had many acclaimed one-person gallery showings of his paintings.

The “hiding in plain sight” nature of this phenomenon could be the reason this rich creative hybrid has rarely been acted on formally in art schools. Through Dan Crewe’s largesse and President Tuski’s collaborative vision, however, MECA is now in the vanguard of this powerful new direction. MECA’s Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the College Ian Anderson (no relation to the Jethro Tull frontman) asserts that MECA is “the first art college to explicitly engage in combining the study of contemporary art and design with music.” In Dan Crewe’s words, “I strongly believe in creativity and how different art forms interact to create something unique. I believe my brother Bob’s career demonstrates this in a powerful way. The Bob Crewe Foundation and Maine College of Art are embarking on something really special and original in academia by blending the two areas with an evolutionary design.”

The sound studio is now rocking, and there is a steady stream of artist-musicians going downstairs to what used to be The Forbidden Zone—the MECA catacombs—but is now a sparkling facility full of sound and creative freedom. Steve Drown, Assistant Professor of Music and sound studio professional, heads the program, which features courses such as History of Contemporary Music, Applied Theory Through Composition, Music Business and Management, Ethnomusicology, and the experimental course Sound and Color.

Steve and his colleague, instructor and composer Hans Spencer, bring great experience and passion to the new program. Hans is the CEO of Listen Up, a mobile music teaching app company, and has taught music for 20+ years. He has a master’s in jazz studiesfrom the New England Conservatory of Music. Steve has been an independent recording engineer for 20+ years, currently workingat The Studio in downtown Portland. He earned his degree in music production and engineering from Berklee College of Music.The proof, though, is in the figgy pudding, as they say at Hogwarts, and all signs indicate that MECA’s music program resounds with audible and visible proof. Steve Drown says: “Students have beenstopping by the music department since day one, just asking to play the instruments. It’s great that everyone wants to be involved.” Steve also shared a glimpse of how the program will interface withother MECA disciplines: “The new art and music program is going to be great not just for musicians; the new recording facilities will help the Digital Media students with films, animation, and video games. They now have a great space to record voice and do
sound design.”

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

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

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

Time, Energy, and Attention image

Time, Energy, and Attention

MFA Faculty Adriane Herman

'To do' lists highlight the ever-evolving line between wants and needs.

What differentiates MECA from your own college and grad school experience?
MECA’s intimate scale facilitates symbiotic flow between faculty and students. Of course, significant connections evolve at all schools. However, I doubt I had nearly the influence on my instructors in college or grad school that my extraordinary students have on me. They continually enrich my life and expand my views of how art functions for us individually and culturally, ever-increasing the consciousness I bring to teaching, making, and being.

Was there a professor who stands out in your mind as having influenced you?
One salient influence was Stanley Lewis. After studying drawing with him, I avidly took his painting classes, which included a good dose of art history. Like me, Lewis thinks and speaks in non-linear fashion, so he issued me a series of permission slips. He went beyond teacher to mentor for me while some peers chafed against his teaching style. No teacher can be all things to all students, or perhaps not even one thing to all students. However, when a teacher’s emitters hit a given student’s receptors, that artist can take what is received and run with it, likely being further ignited by something another instructor, peer, or influential experience offers down the line, and in turn inspiring others. The whole deal is a marvelous Rube Goldbergian delight.

Why do you work in the medium you do?
I make mountains out of molehills and traffic in human aspirations, tastes, and accomplishments, choosing media best suited to a given concept. “To do” lists highlight the ever-evolving line between wants and needs, with wilder fluctuations across cultural borders. What may be a pressing need in one part of the world, such as potable water or access to health care, may not even be on the radar for someone where such things are taken for granted until an emergency. By examining the lists others make, my viewers often identify with some of the wants or needs of other people. Small details hand-written on the list of a stranger might remind us of the struggles others have that we don’t, or perhaps challenges we have surmounted, generating compassion for others and ourselves.

What do you do when you hit a creative wall?
Sorry, that question does not compute. I hit lots of walls—few of them creative. Yes, they are constructed, but most (if not all) of them are illusions.

How do global events and issues, whether contemporary or past, inform your practice?
I research what humans do with their time, energy, and attention today. Global events and issues take a lot of those three resources to absorb, yet they can also infuse us with energy as well as clarify priorities. That in turn certainly trickles down to our “to do” lists. I mine the extraordinary by immersing myself in the [purportedly] ordinary.

Have you ever worked / presented outside of the U.S.?
For a 2008 exhibition organized by Professor Ling-Wen Tsai called The Crossing of Time and Environment, in Toshei Village, Taiwan, I issued a call for photos of plastic bags snagged in trees and implicated myself as part of the problem by laminating images I gathered, and hanging them in trees on the “chosen barren land” where installation occurred. Recently I was invited to design a two-sided banner installed on lampposts in tiny towns in Denmark. The website ET4U.DK documents this exciting public art project bringing diverse work— much of it politically charged—to quiet streets traveled by tractors, school buses, bicyclists, and families turning into their driveways. I only understood the magnitude and potential of this project by walking the streets of these towns this summer. Seeing work virtually is simply not a full-bodied substitute for experiencing it in the flesh, and I encourage students to experience art directly.

What country, that you have never visited, would you like to visit?
The red and black palette of my inlaid burnishing clay panels derives from ancient Greek ceramics. I would love to find some lists hand-written today in Greek, a language we associate with ancient times and remote priorities, and yet spoken and written today in a country experiencing economic upheaval and thus constantly shifting priorities. I also welcome any lists readers wish to mail me care of MECA!

Faculty Reviewed on Hyperallergic image

Faculty Reviewed on Hyperallergic

MFA Faculty Joshua Reiman

Glass Houses is a thought-provoking and meditative show that draws in the viewer.

Assistant Professor of the MFA in Studio Art and Sculpture, Joshua Reiman, has a review of his show Glass Houses in HyperAllergic.

Glass Houses is a thought-provoking and meditative show that draws in the viewer, but only up to a point — purposefully. The vitrines create a sense of disconnect and distance between the viewer and the realities depicted — often of pain, death, destruction, and time — and they remind the viewer that even though the best art connects us to experiences we do not have and worlds we have not visited, there is always a lingering gap between what exists in the world and how closely the viewer can truly grasp it. The job of art is to attempt to bridge that gap, and Glass Houses is a strong argument in favor of straddling that line.” —From Henry Clay Frick to Gilded Matzah, Observing the World in Glass Cases, Deborah Krieger

Read the entire article here.

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.


Curator image


Faculty Steve Halpert

Steve Halpert, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Academic Studies, has been curating exhibitions at the University of New England gallery on the Portland campus for many years. The most recent include two exhibits of vintage and contemporary photography: A Tale of Three Cities: Paris, New York, and Portland, which featured 32 photographers; and Portraits of the Artist, featuring 33 photographers. Steve has also been programming the films at the Portland Museum of Art in Portland, ME, for the last seven years.

Image credit: Portland City Hall Staircase (detail) by Tillman Crane, A Tale of Three Cities: Paris, New York, and Portland