For the Love of Life & Art - Maine College of 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.