Maine College of Art
Located in the heart of the Portland Arts District, Maine College of Art offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts, a Master of Fine Arts in Studio Arts, a Post-Baccalaureate in Art Education as well as Continuing Studies for adults and youths, including a Pre-College intensive for high school students.
The College has transformed a former department store into the main campus building with vibrant classrooms and studios that are open 24/7. Also located in the Porteous Building, the Institute of Contemporary Art at MECA serves a critical regional role in its commitment to presenting contemporary, provocative work by living artists from Maine and around the globe. The Joanne Waxman Library is one of the largest independent libraries in Northern New England and a major resource for the region.
At MECA, undergraduate students spend the first year developing a foundation and the second year exploring a variety of media. At the start of junior year, students declare a major and spend the next two years working within their discipline. MECA offers 10 majors in the BFA program: Ceramics, Graphic Design, Illustration, Metalsmithing & Jewelry, New Media, Painting, Photography, Printmaking, Sculpture, Woodworking & Furniture. The College provides individual studios to all juniors and seniors. MECA is part of a five-college alliance that allows students to access classes and resources in the surrounding area.
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Maine: A Destination of Artistic Inspiration and Creative Expression
Bachelor of Fine Arts
The College awards the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree in ten studio majors:
Metalsmithing & Jewelry
Woodworking & Furniture Design
MECA offers a rigorous Foundation Program that provides intensive training in the fundamentals of drawing and design prior to the major. Required courses in Art History and Liberal Arts constitute fully one-third of the degree program, and are taught from the perspective of the artist. The academic and the creative are indivisible at the College. Programs are designed to equip students with the skills, visual insights, self-confidence, and discipline traditionally associated with the independent professional artist and
- 24/7 access to professional quality studio space for all students
- Individual studio spaces for all majors
- 9:1 student to faculty ratio
- Average class size: 17
- Average major class size: 10
- 300 undergraduate and 25 graduate students
- Full-time and part-time study options available
Master of Fine Arts
The Master of Fine Arts program at MECA is designed for artists whose emerging, mid-career and mature practices demand a flexible, responsive, and rigorous program of studio and academic courses. Our curriculum places equal value on studio practice, individual research, and critical analysis. The MFA program embraces a cross-disciplinary perspective that encourages students to think across boundaries in order to integrate studio practice with material, conceptual, site-specific, and curatorial approaches. The medium residency is a unique program of study that supports artists and artist-curators and other arts professionals as they engage a flexible, portable curriculum that allows independent practices to flourish in both national and international arenas.
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate Program in Art Education
Become a skilled art educator in MECA's intensive 10-month post-baccalaureate program. Begin your teaching career, working side-by-side with certified Maine art educators in real classrooms in public and private schools, in the Institute of Contemporary Art at MECA, and in community settings. Immersed in Portland's contemporary art scene, you will benefit from an extraordinary array of opportunities, including collaborations with practicing artists. Upon successful completion of the program, students are eligible for certification in Maine and all 50 states.
Maine College of Art Accreditation
- National Association of Art and Design (NASAD) since 1973, last comprehensive review 2007
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges since 1978, last comprehensive review 2007
Mission & Values
Maine College of Art delivers a demanding and enlivening education in visual art and design within an intimate learning community. We teach each student how to transform aspirations and values into a creative practice that serves as the foundation for a lifelong pursuit of personal and professional goals.
- Maine College of Art’s educational philosophy is built on the premise that focused individual attention and meaningful collective inquiry produce the conditions in which students’ voices can find strength, clarity, and purpose.
- Our faculty of practicing professional artists, designers, writers, and scholars are committed and passionate educators who consider their classrooms to be extensions of their creative work.
- We give our students the tools they need to take risks, think critically and work creatively within, across, between and beyond disciplines.
- We are an institution that believes in nourishing and sustaining the creative evolution of our communities.
- We delight in engaging students in the process of becoming the inventive, skilled, self-disciplined, seriously playful, culture-making citizens upon whom our world depends.
Board of Trustees
Mary L. Schendel, Chair
Annette L. Elowitch
Candace Pilk Karu
Claudia C. Pachios
Maine College of Art (MECA) was founded in 1882 as part of the Portland Society of Art. An organized curriculum was established in 1911 and the first diplomas awarded in the 1920's by the School of Fine and Applied Arts. In 1972, the School's name was changed to Portland School of Art, and its mission redirected to educate professional visual artists. A core of highly qualified faculty was recruited and a two-year Foundation Program was developed.
The first Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degrees were awarded in 1975, following accreditation in 1973 by the National Association of Colleges of Art and Design (NASAD) and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). In 1982, the School separated from the Portland Society of Art, which also managed the Portland Museum of Art, to become an independent organization with its own Board of Trustees. In 1983, the College purchased and renovated the Baxter Building, the former home of the Portland Public Library.
In 1992, Portland School of Art was renamed Maine College of Art to better identify its status as a degree-granting, New England institution. In 1993, the College purchased the five-story landmark Porteous Building at the center of Portland's downtown Arts District and began a phased renovation project to create updated, consolidated core facilities for the College. In 1998, an innovative Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree program was established.
In 2005, the College entered into a master lease at 51 Oak Street, an 80-bed dormitory- style residence hall and it 2006 it acquired The Shepley Apartments, a 60-bed facility. These residence halls brought 140 beds under College control and both are within a block of the Porteous Building.
In 2006, the College added a ten-month Post Baccalaureate Certificate Program in Art Education. Upon successful completion of the program, students are eligible for certification in Maine and all 50 states.
In 2007, the College received a 27,000-foot space at 540 Congress Street, adjacent to the Porteous Building and entered into a long-term lease for the upper floor of the Porteous Annex, also adjacent to the Porteous Building for administrative offices.
MECA is one of 37 private, non-profit, degree-granting professional art colleges in the country, and one of only 18 such colleges not affiliated with a larger academic or arts institution.
The College awards the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree in ten studio majors: Ceramics, Graphic Design, Illustration Metalsmithing and Jewelry, New Media, Painting, Photography, Printmaking, Sculpture, and Woodworking & Furniture Design. MECA offers a rigorous Foundation Program that provides intensive training in the fundamentals of drawing and design prior to the major. Required courses in Art History and Liberal Arts constitute fully one-third of the degree program, and are taught from the perspective of the artist. The academic and the creative are indivisible at the College. Programs are designed to equip students with the skills, visual insights, self-confidence, and discipline traditionally associated with the independent professional artist and designer.
MECA's distinctive Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree program combines on-campus summer intensives with off-campus supervised studio work. Launched in 1998, it was the first program of its kind in the country. Visiting faculty are leading artists and designers, and give public lectures.
The student body is currently approximately 350 BFA and MFA degree students. About 30% of the students come from Maine, and 70% from New England. Over 95% of undergraduates receive financial assistance.
Full and part-time BFA faculty number 65. All studio faculty are professional exhibiting artists. Full-time and visiting artist appointments are filled by national search. The College maintains a small student to faculty ratio in its degree programs, creating an intimate teaching and learning environment that allows for the individual attention required in quality visual arts training.
Maine College of Art annually serves more than 2000 adults in the region through more than 200 credit and non-credit public courses in its year-round Continuing Studies program. Over 300 teenagers and children participate in MECA's Saturday School and summer classes begun in Portland in 1973.
An Early College program begun in 1982 is a four-week summer intensive that enrolls 50 advanced high school students from throughout the country and that awards college credit.
The College's Joanne Waxman Library is one of the largest independent visual arts libraries in New England (40,000 volumes, 50,000 slides, 100 periodicals and 150 videos). It is the only year-round art library in Maine whose holdings are focused on studio art and design. Open to the public, it is a critical resource for the thriving artist, design and cultural communities in the region.
The College's Institute of Contemporary Art at Maine College of Art (ICA at MECA) presents exhibitions of leading-edge contemporary art year-round which are free and open to the public. ICA offers both adult and children's educational programs. The First Thursdays program brings together local artists, scholars and curators to address current topics in contemporary art.
MECA's public Visiting Artist Lectures Series features distinguished artists, curators, designers and scholars from across the country.