AT MECA, sculpture is broadly defined. It’s always 3D, it always has a point-of-view and always expresses something from within the artist. Beyond that, there’s plenty of room for interpretation. Sure, you’ll work in traditional mediums like stone, clay, wood and glass - but your materials may come from the grocery store vegetable isle, the fabric store or even the trash can. You may even blur the lines so much that your sculpture becomes something you wear - or even the room itself. What’s certain is that you’ll develop your individual process and deep understanding of technique as you create meaningful art.
Rob Doane, 2013
Sculpture: Rob Doane, 2013
Where were you before coming to MECA?
Before coming to MECA I was living in Seattle, Washington, volunteering at Artist Trust, an arts organization, and taking classes at Pratt Fine Art Center.
What brought you to MECA?
I applied to MECA on a whim after discovering that there was an art school in Portland. After visiting and taking a tour I decided to attend.
What surprises have you encountered with your education here?
I never thought I would work with performance or make video but they are now two of the mediums that I am most interested in.
What is the best thing you’ve learned in terms of real world experience while being here?
The best thing I have learned at MECA in terms of real world experience is how important it is for an artist to be a self-promoter. No one else is going to do it.
How would you describe your art making style?
My art making style is conceptual. I’m really interested in quantum physics and the theory that all things are made of the same basic particles. This creates a connection between all humans that we cannot detect on the surface of things or within each other. Time and space act as barriers to the realization of this connection. Through my artwork I aim to transcend time and space revealing an interconnection between people. Being conscience of this connection will create compassion for the viewer.
What inspired you to choose a major in sculpture?
I just knew. It’s the way my brain and body work, visually and physically. I made my first ever 3D piece in the 3D fabrication class and I was 100% sure.
How has MECA helped you network outside of the school?
MECA has helped me network outside of the school in many ways. It began in FY-In, when working with Space Gallery, which led to an internship there during the following semester. I got to know many people in the Portland arts community. One of the best resources is the visiting artist program. I have had several studio visits with visiting artists and their feedback has been incredibly useful.
What are your future goals and dreams?
Graduation is up there and I am going to be applying to MFA programs for next academic year. After that I’m going to make the artist thing happen.
How has MECA helped you form these goals?
Without MECA I would not have developed the skills and confidence necessary to pursue an MFA or become a working artist.
What expectations do you have from MECA in helping you achieve these goals?
I expect MECA to have the adequate resources to support the application process to MFA programs and to maintain an alumni and faculty network to support my artistic career.
What are some other hobbies/interests you have?
I round out my studio practice with surfing, my other passion. I also practice yoga, swim, run, and cycle -- when I make time -- to stay in shape for surfing.
Ling-Wen Tsai was born in Taiwan where she spent the first twenty-five years of her life before coming to the United Stats. Her practice spans a broad range of media, and her work has taken the form of installation, performance, video, photography, painting, drawing, and combinations of these media.
In recent years, Tsai has begun to integrate sound/music and body/movement into her artistic practice, and has been collaborating with artists, musicians and composers, such as Lior Navok (Israeli composer), Tracey Cockrell (sound artist), George Winston (pianist/composer), I.S.Q: Improvisational String Quartet, Nathan Kolosko (guitarist/composer), Carl Dimow (flutist/composer), and Deborah Wing-Sproul (artist.) These collaborative efforts have manifested themselves in many of her recent works and exhibitions: “one/another” at SPACE Gallery, Portland, Maine and Tampopo ArtSpace, Tanian, Taiwan; “overlaps,” Month of May Performance Series at 179 Canal Street, NYC; “I.C.U.: Intensive Care Unit” at Portland Performing Arts Center; “New Gallery Concert Series” at Community Music Center of Boston; “Metamorphosis of Meditation” with ISQ: Improvisational String Quartet, ICA at Maine College of Art; “The Old Photo Box” at Goethe-Institute, Boston, Massachusetts. Selections from her collaborative video work "Water & Wind" with composer Nathan Kolosko were featured at numerous international venues, from Maine to New York to Portugal.
Internationally and nationally, some of Tsai’s select exhibitions have included “The Place,” Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris, France; “Tainan Phenomena,” Tainan, Taiwan; Merhaba Baghdad, Qasim Sabti Gallery, Karada, Baghdad, Iraq; “The Crossing of Time and Environment,” Toshei Village, Tainan, Taiwan; “International Exhibition of Women’s Art,” SOHO20 Chelsea Gallery, New York, NY; “Regional VI” at ARC Gallery, Chicago, IL; “MOAK 4 State Regional,” Springfield Art Museum, MO; “Nadadada” (performance art festival), Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis, MO; “Bird,” Open Press Ltd, Denver, CO; and “Associations,” Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, Grand Rapids, MI
MFA Sculpture, Washington University, St. Louis (Honors)
BA Studio Art, Webster University, St. Louis (Honors)
BS Nursing, Chung-Shan Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan
Sculpture faculty - Ling-Wen Tsai
Vivian Beer '00
Furniture maker Vivian Beer credits Maine College of Art for giving her a formal, Bauhaus-style art education that continues to enrich her design practice with key methodologies, especially abstraction.
Growing up in rural Maine, the development of hand skills and the making of objects was a part of Vivian’s everyday life. This understanding of design as a hands-on process has influenced the format of both process and product throughout her career. Vivian tiptoes through contemporary design, craft and sculptural aesthetics, sampling from each one. She deftly counterbalances a strong knowledge of contemporary furniture design with the history of industry and architecture to create furniture that intends to transform our expectations of and relationships to the domestic landscape.
After graduating with a degree in sculpture from MECA, she earned a master’s degree at Cranbrook and then an artist residency at Penland. She has shown work at The Mint Museum, Fuller Craft Museum, SOFA Chicago, Palm Beach 3, and The International Contemporary Furniture Fair. She lives and works in Manchester NH, teaches and exhibits nationally and internationally. The City of Portland, Maine commissioned her to create two public art sculptures for Winslow Park.
Sculpture Alumni - Vivian Beer '00
What are some of the career paths for someone who majors in Sculpture?
Most BFA sculpture graduates will need to find employment to support their studio life independently of their sculpture production until they achieve sufficient recognition to sustain their studio practice by selling work. As the art market is unpredictable based on the fickle nature of the economy, public taste and popular style, most artists/sculptors need to be diverse in their approach to employment. Most take part time jobs to free their time to work in the studio. Some go on to graduate school and earn a Masters of Fine Arts degree which gives them more time to refine and polish their skills. Generally MFA graduates find work in teaching.
Depending on kind of sculpture background, expertise could result in many diverse career paths or studio support. Some examples: performance/video artists do video production, stage craft, theatre work, costume design, acting. Sculptors who make objects find technical work in foundries, welding shops, wood shops, assisting other artists, stage and exhibition craft. Some sculptors have shops and become tradesmen/women. With interpersonal skills and love of sharing, some become teachers, public school, private school, college levels. Some sculptors work in community rehab, public engagement through community arts events. Sculptors with interests in site as a medium, interventions and installation art, often assist architects, work in landscape design as designers and laborers. Sculptors who can earn by their studio do sculpture, exhibit work, do commissioned work. S
How do you prepare your students for the real world?
We teach material and technical skills, train students in critical awareness, Encourage clear speaking and writing about works. We go to sculpture exhibitions, attend lectures on the field, visit with professional/practicing artists in their studios or have them visit our studio.
What are the prerequisites to major in Sculpture?
Completing the foundation program plus two semesters in a sculpture elective
Will I be able to incorporate other media or interests with my work as a Sculpture major?
Yes, contemporary sculpture can and most often is interdisciplinary, bringing together diverse interests
What are some of the classes that are offered in your department?
In addition to material skill based studio electives like Welding, Metal Casting, Wood Sculpture and Stone Sculpture, the sculpture program offers theme based courses like Performance Art, Public Art, Figure Sculpture, and conceptually driven courses like Form and Content, Defining Gravity, and Temporal Structures. Elective courses are offered on a rotational bases over the course of two to three year cycles. The Sculpture Major III and IV is comprised of two semesters of advanced study/ self assigned work, with advisement in the third year and two semesters in the senior year. An Introduction to the Sculpture Discipline course provides an in-depth look into the history and evolution of sculpture ideas through all time and is taken once during the two majoring years.
What are some of the unique aspects of this program?
Sculpture is a time-based discipline that is couched in an investigation of concepts through material, form and spatial engagements.. While it can be many things from making objects, designing sites and installations, being a performance artist, producing video, work is made in-the-round. It is a three dimensional art form that is dimensionless in height, width and depth. The individual artist chooses the formal means to advance their concepts.
What are your facilities like?
Sculpture has four studios: Majors studio, Welding/Foundry studio, Elective studio, Plaster and Mold Making studio.
Elective students use all these studios except the Majors studio is reserved for advanced students. Majors use all the studios. The Elective studio is designed to support all kinds of materials and is equipped with a selection of stationary power and hand tools. There is a complete selection of wood and stone working tools. Plaster, clay modeling and diverse materials are supported too.
The Metal Studio is equipped with stationary and hand power tools for working metal. This includes electric MIG, Arc and TIG welding, also Oxy-Acetelyme gas torch welding, two coal forges, a furnace, melting capacity of 200 Lbs bronze metal, gas kiln for burnign out molds for lost wax casting.
The plaster/mold making studio has sink/tubs for water, is ventilated for dusts and served with counters and tables for working plasters, cements and investment materials. Because of its location and ability to be darkened it doubles as a projection room for viewing digital and slide projections.
The Majors studio has benches for each Major, is designed with open work spaces and includes flat partitions for making and viewing flat work in support of sculpture.
What are some examples of internships your students have done in the past?
Sculpture students have worked in the June Fitzpatrick Galleries as installers and receptionists. Sculpture students have served locally as museum guards, recently one is making props for a special ICA production
How many students (juniors and seniors) do you typically have in your major?
It fluctuates. Right now we have 12 seniors graduating, and next year 12 new Juniors. While the Junior class is small this year, the average 9 - 12 Juniors and 9 - 12 Seniors
Can you give me some examples of Artist at Work in your department?
Two are working in the ICA as either receptionists or exhibition preparators. One is finishing a sculpture commission for a private funerary monument, two are doing commissioned sculptures for NAMI a regional branch of a national mental health organizations.