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Reggio-Inspired Conference at MECA

Posted: 2015-04-22

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>> Friday, August 14, 2015 through Sunday, August 16, 2015

Maine College of Art presents a conference designed to inspire conversation about the role documentation can play in helping diverse populations understand each other. Together we will explore stories of immigrant populations in Reggio Emilia and Pistoia, Italy, as well as in Portland, Maine.

This groundbreaking look at documentation is designed for educators, school administrators, social service providers, and anyone working with communities of refugees and immigrants.

By witnessing and recording, the process of documentation can ultimately lead to understanding the shifts in learning within communities. The practice of documentation as a means of assessment and interpretation has served to inform early childhood educators in Reggio Emilia and Pistoia, Italy for decades. The Reggio Emilia approach is based in part on the view that children are capable, competent learners.  This conference explores the notions of "making learning visible" within a variety of collaborative, educational settings through documentation. Documentation, when utilized in authentic, project-based teaching and learning, transcends early childhood practice and is now embraced by artists at work in socially-engaged, collaborative, community-based endeavors and in the new framework of Design Thinking.

Keynote speakers:
Lella Gandini, Ed.D,
United States Liaison for the Dissemination
of the Reggio Emilia Approach
Susan Etheredge, Ed.D, Professor and
Chair of the Department of Education and Child Study at Smith College.

The conference registration price for three days is $180, with limited housingavailable.

Conference includes a Friday night reception with hors d'oeuvres
and light breakfast on Saturday and Sunday mornings.  Other meals are not included.

Click here for more information and to register.

Presented by the Master of Arts in Teaching Programat MECA, an accredited,
ten-month program that blends the worlds of artist, educator and scholar.

MECA Announces 2015 Spring Gala on May 1

Posted: 2015-04-16

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MECAmorphosis Hosted on May 1 in Conjunction with First Friday Artwalk

Free and Open to the Public for the First Time, MECAmorphosis Celebrates the 2015 BFA Thesis Exhibitions while Introducing 80 Emerging Artists

Portland, Maine ~  Held in collaboration with Portland’s First Friday Art Walk this year, access to the 2015 Thesis Exhibition is free and open to the public. There will be light fare and interactive art throughout the College’s historic Porteous Building. The evening includes a ticketed Runway Fashion Show in the ICA, which premiers the collections of our majors in Textile and Fashion Design, followed by a ticketed Artist’s Party.

MECAmorphosis celebrates the 2015 Thesis Exhibition and introduces over 80 emerging artists graduating from Maine College of Art in the BFA program, as well as raises critical scholarship funds to educate the next generation of artists.

  • 5:00PM-8:00PM    BFA Thesis Exhibition, Floors 1, 2 + 3 (free + open to the public)

  • 6:30PM-7:30PM*   Runway Fashion Show in the ICA, Floor 1 (ticketed) *doors at 6:00PM

  • 7:30PM-10:00PM   Artist's Party in the Cafe (ticketed)


General Admission to the BFA Thesis Exhibition Opening, which does not include admission to the Fashion Show or the Artist’s Party is Free and Open to the Public (5:00-8:00pm).  

Runway Fashion Show Tickets, which include admission to the BFA Thesis Exhibition Opening, as well as the Runway Fashion Show and Artist’s Party, are $75 (5:00-10:00pm).   

Host Committee Tickets, which include admission to the BFA Thesis Exhibition Opening, the Fashion Show and the Artist's Party, are $150 (5:00-10:00pm).

Patron Tickets, which include admission to the BFA Thesis Exhibition Opening, the Runway Fashion Show and the Artist's Party, are $500 (5:00-10:00pm).

Dress is creative black tie -- meaning attendees are invited to dress up, but do so with a creative twist.


MECAmorphosis 2015 is generously supported by our lead sponsor, TD Bank as well as media sponsors, Maine Magazine and Maine Home + Design.

Tickets are available at brownpapertickets. For more information, email or call 207.699.5012.


2015 Merit Show Winners

Posted: 2015-04-07

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Congratulations to all the Merit Show winners this year. Participating students compete every year in the Merit Show for scholarship prizes and must meet a minimum GPA requirement. This year’s show featured the work of 46 students.

The Geary Prize:
Robert Condon, Junior, Graphic Design

Jury Select:
Jacqueline King, Sophomore, Painting

Honorable Mentions:
Ashley Wernher-Collins, Junior, Textiles & Fashion Design
Catherine Quattrociocchi, Sophomore, Metalsmithing & Jewelry
Emily Koerner, Junior Textiles & Fashion Design
Gillan Doty, Junior, Ceramics

Outstanding 2D Work:
Anna Welch, Sophomore, Printmaking

Outstanding 3D Work:
Emmett Freeman, Sophomore, Ceramics

4th Place:
Hannah Boone, Junior, Painting

3rd Place:
Peter Dore, Junior, Woodworking & Furniture Design

2nd Place:
Elana Sternick, Junior, Woodworking & Furniture Design

Best in Show:
Iva Milovanovic, Junior, Ceramics

Posted: 2015-04-06

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KENNEBUNK – The Brick Store Museum’s newest exhibition, Visual Storytelling: Celebrating Maine Illustrators, will open Friday, March 20. The exhibit will not only display the history of illustration, but feature the artwork of illustrators, artists, and cartoonists living in Maine today. The illustrated image has become a significant part of our culture and captured the imaginations of generations.
Illustrators taking part in the exhibit include current and former MECA faculty Stephen Costanza, Daniel Minter, Scott Nash. The show also features the work of MECA alumi, Jada Fitch. Also exhibited are Dahlov Ipcar, Ashley Bryan, Chris van Dusen, Wade Zahares, Melissa Sweet among others. Each artist has been invited to share 3-5 pieces of work. There are many kinds of illustration featured in the exhibit, including children’s books, political cartoons, comic books, and natural history illustration.
Visitors will be invited to create their own art inside the gallery – right on the wall! Upcoming summer illustrators’ workshops (check for future listings) will invite families, students, and adults to take part in specialized presentations by the artists themselves. Visual Storytelling is sponsored by the Captain Lord Mansion, the Captain Jefferds Inn, and Hurlbutt Designs. The exhibit will run through Sept. 27, 2015.
For more information, please contact Prof. Scott Nash (

Posted: 2015-04-06

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KENNEBUNK – The Brick Store Museum’s newest exhibition, Visual Storytelling: Celebrating Maine Illustrators, will open Friday, March 20. The exhibit will not only display the history of illustration, but feature the artwork of illustrators, artists, and cartoonists living in Maine today. The illustrated image has become a significant part of our culture and captured the imaginations of generations.
Illustrators taking part in the exhibit include current and former MECA faculty Stephen Costanza, Daniel Minter, Scott Nash. The show also features the work of MECA alumi, Jada Fitch. Also exhibited are Dahlov Ipcar, Ashley Bryan, Chris van Dusen, Wade Zahares, Melissa Sweet among others. Each artist has been invited to share 3-5 pieces of work. There are many kinds of illustration featured in the exhibit, including children’s books, political cartoons, comic books, and natural history illustration.
Visitors will be invited to create their own art inside the gallery – right on the wall! Upcoming summer illustrators’ workshops (check for future listings) will invite families, students, and adults to take part in specialized presentations by the artists themselves. Visual Storytelling is sponsored by the Captain Lord Mansion, the Captain Jefferds Inn, and Hurlbutt Designs. The exhibit will run through Sept. 27, 2015.
For more information, please contact Prof. Scott Nash (

MECA's Second Annual Youth Essay Contest

Posted: 2015-03-26

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Portland Maine ~ Last year Maine College of Art held its inaugural Summer Youth Essay Contest. After receiving over 70 submissions from young artists ranging in age from 8 to 17, MECA recognized there is a great desire for arts programming in the Greater Portland area and decided to make the contest an annual event. This year, three students will be awarded  free summer arts camps based on their essays' conviction and clarity of expression. The essay question this year focuses on students' impactful experiences with art. Students are asked to respond to the following question in 250-500 words,  “Tell us about an art experience you’ve had that you’ll never forget. How has it inspired you to want to make art at MECA this summer?”

The goal of the essay contest is to engage young artists in the community and to give them opportunities to expand their artistic skill-set. Many of the winning students last year spoke about how the opportunity to spend their summer at MECA would help them grow as people and learn as artists. Caitlyn Duffy, one of last years winners, said in her essay, “I thrive in places surrounded by other people who are just as creative as me, or more so. To have the opportunity to be surrounded by people with passion and to broaden my artistic skill would be an extremely rich experience.”

The prize for winners is a full scholarship to MECA’s many summer art camps. MECA’s youth art camps explore a wide range of disciplines, including painting, drawing, gaming, sculpture, fashion, animation, photography, printmaking, and much more.  New this year are camps that center around music composition, programming inspired by MECA's new Music minor this year, thanks to a generous gift from The Bob Crewe Foundation.

More information on the Summer Youth Essay Contest can be found at  Or call 699-5061 with questions.

You can read the essays from last year’s winners here.

Contact: Courtney Cook
Director of Continuing Studies
Maine College of Art

Professor Mark Jamra Recognized by Typographica

Posted: 2015-03-24

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Associate Professor of Graphic Design Mark Jamra has been recognized by as having one of the best typefaces of 2014. Mark Jamra is a renowned type designer and has been designing typefaces for close to 30 years. His company, TypeCulture is an independent type foundry and academic resource. Typographica reviewed Jamra's typeface "Phoreus Cherokee" which is one of the very few Cherokee typefaces available for use. The review talks about the desperate need for a quality Cherokee typeface,

"Four years ago, in a conference room filled with type enthusiasts, three representatives of the Cherokee Nation explained why the world still needs more fonts.

Of their 316,000 members (the largest tribal nation in the USA), only 22,000 native Cherokee speakers remain, and only a handful of Cherokee fonts exist, most of poor quality. Users have no way to make a headline bold or to italicize words for emphasis. Traditional Cherokee type designs are intricate and of high contrast, poorly suited for reading on screen. New, multifunctional Cherokee fonts are an essential tool necessary for the education, communication, and survival of their language.

That is why I salute Mark Jamra. He stepped up."

You can read the full review here.

You can see the full list of typeface here.

Getting Ready for the Great Maine Bike Swap in April

Posted: 2015-03-17

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The Bicycle Coalition of Maine is hosting the 2015 Portland Great Maine Bike Swap on Sunday, April 26, from 10am–1pm. The Bike Swap will be at the USM Sullivan Recreation & Fitness Complex in Portland. At the swap you can choose from hundreds of bikes in varying prices ranges. This event is the unofficial kick-off to the Maine cycling season and local bike shops will be selling helmets, bike parts, gear and accessories as well.

Maine College of Art has partnered with the Bicycle Coalition of Maine before on events such as “Bike Light Giveaway.” Where members of the Coalition educated commuters on the safety of using bike lights and remaining visible during their rides. Many MECA community members are avid cyclists and often take advantage of events hosted by the Coalition. The bike swap is a great way for fellow cyclists to connect in the community and encourage green transportation. 

You can find more information about the bike swap, including buying and selling, here.

Chinese Artist Mei Selvage Library Exhibition Expresses Wisdom in Visual Storytelling

Posted: 2015-02-27

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(PORTLAND, MAINE) Portland-based artist Mei Selvage is exhibiting her recent acrylic and mixed-media art at Joanne Waxman Library of Maine College of Art (MECA) through March 14, 2015.

Through art, Mei Selvage embodies and expresses Dharma (wisdom). The results are narratives on personal and universal levels. “Art is my way to tell stories,” she says. “I love to use words, colors, and images to reveal the interplay of hidden and perceived realities. Art empowers me and enables me express the ancient wisdom.” In February’s Maine Natural Awakening Magazine, Amy Paradysz—a writer based in Scarborough, ME—highlights Mei’s embrace of Chinese “accent” in her work.

The exhibition marks a celebration of Chinese New Year, which officially begins Feb. 19. Moira Steven, Library Director at MECA Library, is pleased to promote cross-cultural exchanges. MECA kicked off several important partnerships with Chinese art academies and cultural institutions in 2014.

About Mei Selvage:
Mei is a visual artist who was born in Sichuan, China, and moved to the U.S. in 1997. She creates artworks in acrylic painting and mixed-media. Her inspirations come from classical Chinese art, literature, and philosophy. As a co- founder and curator of Ya Ji East/West Cultural Gatherings, Mei brings a genuine artist spirit and her vision for an East/West creative hub in the New England. Mei spends her days as a research director at Gartner and co-invented more than 30 patents during her twelve-year career at IBM. For more artist information, visit

About MECA Joanne Waxman Library:
Maine College of Art’s library is located on the second floor of the Porteous Building in downtown Portland, Maine. As a full-service library, it serves as the main research center for the college community and the general public, as well as providing exhibition space for student and faculty work. It collects over 40,000 books and subscribes to 108 print magazines. For more information, visit


Professor Matt Hutton Recognized by American Craft Council

Posted: 2015-02-26

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Matt Hutton, Associate Professor of Woodworking and Furniture Design at Maine College of Art is being recognized by the American Craft Council (AAC) in their new Emerging Voices Award. The award recognizes one emerging artist, four shortlisted artists, and one emerging scholar. In addition to cash prizes, all artists and scholars will be featured in the June/July issue of American Craft.

This is the first year that the Emerging Voices Award is being presented and will be presented biennially in recognition and support of the next generation of makers and thinkers in the field of contemporary craft.

Matt Hutton earned his BFA at the Herron School of Art in Indianapolis, Indiana and an MFA from San Diego State University. He started working at MECA in 2002 as a Professor of the woodworking program. The Woodworking and Furniture Design program at MECA is designed to teach students to move beyond basic woodworking skills and take their concepts from sketches, to technical drawings, to finished pieces. The program takes advantage of using both classic and modern tools such as the CNC router, a machine that Matt Hutton often uses in his precisely crafted work.

To learn more about the other winners of the Emerging Artist Award read The American Craft Council’s press release here.

See more of Matt Hutton's work here.

2015 MAMM SLAM Winners Receive Opportunity to Earn Up to a $16,000 MECA Scholarship

Posted: 2015-02-25

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Portland, Maine  - The Maine Academy of Modern Music (MAMM) and Maine College of Art (MECA) have some exciting news to share with young aspiring musicians around the State of Maine:

MECA will be partnering with MAMM for the 2015 MAMM SLAM by offering annual scholarships of $10 - $16,000/year, dependent upon academic and artistic qualifications, for four years of full-time study to each member of the winning band.  

This is in addition to an already robust prize package which includes a $1000 cash prize sponsored by The Rusty Rocket Music Fund, free recording time in a professional studio, premiere gigs including a performance spot at the MAMM Stage at the 2015 Old Port Festival, a tour of Gateway Mastering studios, and much more.

Because of this exciting new development in the competition, MAMM is extending the 2015  MAMM SLAM registration deadline to March 21st so that more students can try to take advantage of this opportunity.  Students can register at  The Preliminary Rounds will start on April 11th at Bayside Bowl.  Finals are May 9th at the Asylum in Portland.  Both venues are generously donating the use of their space for the programs.

With this generous scholarship, young Maine musicians will be able to help shape the future of MECA and it’s involvement with the musical arts through the new music program starting this upcoming fall.  This music program will be the first of it’s kind in the country and will provide a unique learning experience for those who are both artistically inclined and musically gifted.  This program is made possible by an extremely generous donation of $3,000,000 from the Bob Crewe Foundation and is being facilitated by new additions to the school that will include spaces for both learning and recording.  

MECA President, Don Tuski, Ph.D said “We are thrilled to be able to offer this incentive to the winners of MAMM SLAM 2015. We hope that our newest academic program that is dedicated to exploring the intersection of art and music will attract the best and brightest of Maine’s creative scene and beyond. Partnering with MAMM Slam provides us direct access to some of the best high school talent around the State of Maine.”


The MAMM SLAM is a yearly contest and opportunity for Maine’s high school-aged musicians of all backgrounds and styles to showcase their skills and talent.  Giving teen bands and solo performers (singer/songwriters and DJ’s) a chance to compete in showcasing their songwriting, performance skills, web presence, marketing, and other aspects of being a professional touring and recording musician.  None of this would be possible without the generous sponsorship and support of, The Rusty Rocket Music Fund,, Coffee By Design, Asylum, Bayside Bowl, Crooked Cove, State Theatre, Gateway Mastering, WCYY, WBLM, Maine Magazine, WPXT-TV and MECA.

For more information or to register for the 2015 MAMM SLAM visit the official page on the MaineToday website at



If you are interested in The Maine Academy of Modern Music and their programs and other upcoming events such as those with MYRO (The Maine Youth Rock Orchestra) you can visit their website or facebook page, or contact them directly by phone or email:


FORAGED: Films about Food and You

Posted: 2015-02-20

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Sunday, March 1, 4pm Foraged: Films about Food and You at Osher Hall in MECA


Post film discussion and snacks provided by Rosemont Market and Bakery. Seating limited. To reserve a spot go to: 

Join us for an exciting documentary about the future of agriculture in America, and the impact it will have throughout the nation.

About the film:


Two farmers explore the impact of synthetic chemicals used in agriculture. My Father's Garden is an engrossing, emotionally charged documentary about the use and misuse of technology on the American farm.
More than a cautionary tale, My Father's Garden is a one-hour documentary that tells a story of hope. The memories of the past serve to teach us that we do not have to repeat the mistakes of our fathers. The present is given direction through the explanation and practice of the philosophies of sustainability. Food cannot grow forever on a damaged earth, but we can bring health and beauty back into the Garden, if we are willing to cooperate with nature's infinite intelligence.  This wisdom holds the secret to our children's future.

President Don Tuski Speaks at Eggs & Issues

Posted: 2015-02-18

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Maine College of Art's President Don Tuski Ph.D. spoke at The Portland Chamber's Eggs & Issues event on February 10, 2015. Tuski's talk was titled "Why You Might Be Crazy If You Don't Go To Art School" and he spoke about how artists make cities better and how MECA has positively influenced our community.

Geary's Summer Ale Package Design Winner Annouced

Posted: 2015-02-05

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Congratulations to RJ Condon, a junior in Graphic Design, winner of the annual Geary's Summer Ale package design competition open to all MECA undergraduates. His design will be featured on nearly 1 million bottles of beer and he receives a prize of $5,000 cash.

See other entries

Razzle Dazzle Sis Boom Bah Opens in the ICA

Posted: 2015-01-21

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Razzle Dazzle Sis Boom Bah featuring canadian artist Karen Kraven and curated by Nicholas Brown. This show is coming to the ICA from Fonderie Darling in Montreal.

The show will be open from January 21st to April 5th, 2015

The opening reception is on Wednesday January 21, 6–8pm featuring an artist talk with Karen Kraven and curator Nicholas Brown at 6:30pm.

Curator's Statement

Karen Kraven - Razzle Dazzle Sis Boom Bah 
Curated by Nicholas Brown

Razzle Dazzle Sis Boom Bah elicits a boisterous form of misdirection. The first half of the exhibition’s title references organized sports and warfare, strategies designed to confuse the opponent through aggressive motion and dramatic flair. Equally boisterous, Sis Boom Bah is the prototypical cheerleading chant that describes a fireworks display. Together, these words convey the enthusiastic subterfuge of Karen Kraven’s new exhibition at ICA @ MECA.

Karen Kraven’s works set up unexpected encounters between sculptures and images, uncanny resemblances and misleading juxtapositions. Like a stage or film set that’s been frozen in time these spaces confound and delight, borrowing the tactics of a con artist. Kraven exploits the illusion and attraction found in such pursuits as horseracing, hunting and fishing, and counterfeiting. These motifs take the guise of everyday items, handmade surrogates and decoys. Shifting and mutating, they collapse upon one another, mesmerizing us as they reappear enlarged, divided, transubstantiated, inflated, and flattened.

First presented at the initiative of Montreal’s Darling Foundry in 2014, Razzle Dazzle Sis Boom Bah has been reconfigured and expanded with new work produced onsite at MECA.

Born in London, Ontario, Karen Kraven holds an MFA from Concordia University in Montreal, where she was the recipient of the Dale & Nick Tedeschi Fellowship. Based in Montreal and represented by Parisian Laundry, she has also exhibited at Centre Clark, Montreal, Leonard & Ellen Bina Gallery, Montreal, Blackwood Gallery, University of Toronto Mississauga, and Neubacher Shor Contemporary, Toronto. She is in residence at the Darling Foundry’s Montreal Artist's Creation Studio (2013-2016).

Nicholas Brown is a Canadian curator recently based in New York. He was one of the curators of the multi-site exhibition “Shaping Community” at Yale University in 2012. Nicholas curated "You had to go Looking for it" in Toronto's financial district for Scotiabank Nuit Blanche 2011. He was the founding Director/Curator of Red Bull 381 Projects in Toronto (2008-2010). Nicholas has contributed essays and reviews to Fillip, Hunter and Cook, and Cura. In 2012, he was awarded the Darling Foundry’s Residence of the Americas, sponsored by the Conseil des Arts de Montréal.

MECA and Portland Stage Announce New Partnership

Posted: 2015-01-15

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Portland, Maine -  Portland Stage and Maine College of Art (MECA) have recently announced a new partnership to offer a Theater Arts Track during MECA’s three-week residential Pre-College Program. Running July 12 – August 1, 2015, Pre-College is an immersive creative experience for High School Students with a passion for the performing or visual arts. Registration is now open for applications with a deadline of April 20th at


MECA’s Maine College of Art's 3-week residential Pre-College program in the Visual Arts has run since 1980 and provides high school students with an immersive and authentic experience of being an art school student. The program attracts students seeking an opportunity to enjoy creative freedom in a setting that is rigorous, fun and challenging-- both personally and professionally. Guided and mentored by accomplished MECA faculty, Pre-College students are passionate about their creative expression and eager to achieve new artistic heights, regardless of form or medium.


This year PSC is collaborating with MECA to develop the MECA Pre-College Theatre Arts track designed to expand the outreach of the original Pre-College Program.  Carmen-maria Mandley, Education and Literary Manager says “Portland Stage’s immersive theater training program applies a storyteller’s approach to: the actor, the audience, the text, the room.  Participants will focus on the relationship between the actor and the audience, the resonant voice, a heightened sense of play, and an active body.  Classes will include Kristin Linklater’s voice progression, movement work, stage combat, theatrical clown, scene study, design, audition techniques and more.”  This track will culminate in two 30 minute Shakespeare ‘Bare-Bard’ performances.


“We couldn’t be more excited about this partnership and the opportunity to work as a team with the faculty of MECA in the Theater Arts Track.  It is a wonderful collaboration,” says Executive Artistic Director Anita Stewart. Theater students will work daily at Portland Stage, a three minute walk from MECA, while housing, meals and all extra-curricular and weekend workshops will be provided on the MECA campus.

This unique partnership between two great Portland arts institutions will bring together students from the visual and performing arts, creating cross-pollination through interdisciplinary evening workshops, shared downtime and weekend activities. Courtney Cook, Director of Continuing Studies says “We believe at this age, the creative impulse should be allowed to inform-- and be informed by-- other areas of artistic expression, capitalizing on the creative synergy that exists between the two art forms.” High school students who complete Pre-College acquire the skills to embark on a rigorous study of the arts.


For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact Eileen Phelan, Marketing Director at Portland Stage: 207.774.1043 (ext. 108) or

CTN Member Highlight On Maine College of Arts Music Integration Program

Posted: 2015-01-07

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VP of Academic Affairs and Dean of the College Ian Anderson discusses the Music Integration Program in this CTN Member highlight.

FY-In Public Engagement Students Make Work From Climate Change Research

Posted: 2015-01-05

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Student artists at MECA make work from climate change research

Read full article  

By NICK SCHROEDER  |  Published in digportland on December 18, 2014

Macpage LLC Celebrates 27 Years of Supporting MECA

Posted: 2014-12-22

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Recognizing MECA's Contributions to Portland, ME

MACPAGE LLC, an accounting and consulting firm with offices in South Portland, Augusta and Marlborough, MA, has a 27-year history of supporting MECA. Managing Director Tom O’Donnell feels strongly that MECA enriches Portland’s downtown, anchoring the arts community, and serving as an economic driver for the region. His wife Judy is an artist who has taken many courses through MECA’s Continuing Studies program. “Maine College of Art popularizes the arts,” Tom notes.
“For many people there is a notion that the arts are inaccessible. MECA has helped to make the arts more mainstream.”
Marketing Manager Bethany Mitchell, who graduated from the University of Southern Maine with her BFA in Studio Arts, has been overseeing Macpage’s art exhibitions for the past two years. The art shows started as the result of a conversation between Tom and his wife Judy as they reflected on the firm’s stock artwork and typical office decor. Now into their fifth exhibition, the shows have freshened up the walls and brought many new faces through their doors. “We’ve enjoyed the transformation of watching a bunch of
accountants develop an appreciation for the arts,” says Chief Operating Officer Ralph Hendrix. “And the artists themselves have brought a lot of diversity to the office.”
“Conversations” is the theme of their current exhibition, which was curated by a committee including MECA Continuing Studies faculty member Diane Dahlke, who is a featured artist in the exhibition. Several employees at Macpage have purchased work from the exhibitions, and Macpage itself has acquired a number of pieces, some of which are retained in-house as the start of a permanent art
collection, and some of which they purchase to donate to other nonprofits to be used in their fundraising efforts.

In addition to supporting MECA’s annual fund each year, Macpage also serves as a sponsor for fundraising events. This year, Macpage sponsored MECAmorphosis, the College’s spring gala. The event raised critical scholarship dollars to support current undergraduate students. “It’s nice to be able to help out,” Ralph explains modestly. “MECA is a big part of what makes Portland such a nice city.”


FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Managing Director Thomas C. O’Donnell, Marketing Manager Bethany R. Mitchell, President Graham M. Smith,
and Chief Operating Officer Ralph R. Hendrix in front of a painting from their summer exhibition.

MAT Students at MECA Inspire and Heal Through Teaching Visual Art

Posted: 2014-12-22

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Portland, Maine ~ Making art transports the mind, body and soul to places of imagination and inspiration. While the Master of Arts in Teaching program at Maine College of Art primarily prepares teacher candidates to teach in K-12 public schools, opportunities for teaching art in local community-based settings abound. As part of the Alternative Settings class with Kelly McConnell, a group of four MAT candidates selected a placement at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital in Portland.

The group shared their enthusiasm for collaborative and individual art making by planning a group activity, followed by one-on-one projects tailored for each person.


 Shaun Aylward, a member of the MAT cohort, began the idea of making puzzle pieces with one common line to unify their creation.

As teachers in training, Adrienne Kitko, Lia Petriccione, and Tess Hitchcock set up a station for the children to learn and explore. Their lesson plans included providing the young patients with various paints, colors and brushes to design unique puzzle pieces that would form a whole. “We anticipated a low number of children to attend this activity,” Kitko said, “because it started at 6:00pm and our hospital contact mentioned that the children had a long day and are usually tired around that time. This was not the case for us; we had 10 energetic, excited children who couldn’t wait to sit down and start painting. Kitko further explained their planning process, “We chose the puzzle painting project because we knew we would be teaching a group of children who are sick and may not have the opportunity to meet each other during their stay at the hospital.  The project encouraged children to come together and participate in a fun and engaging activity. Our hope was for the children to get to know one another, make a friend or two and realize they are not alone. Our hopes were exceeded when we had more children than we expected and their family members participated in the painting, laughing, and playing around with the puzzle pieces.”

After the puzzle activity, the MAT teacher candidates worked with individual students, designing lessons that focused on art skills that would bring out personal expression and be fun to do.  Each teacher candidate used a medium that the children wanted to learn something more about.

When describing the experience, Tess Hitchcock noted, “Ashleigh wanted to learn how to paint, so I brought watercolors and a smile to the hospital one Saturday morning.” Hitchcock’s lesson built on Ashleigh’s desire to paint and extended her thinking by posing age-related provocative questions about art making like, “Is it okay to make a mess?” “Does your painting have to look like something real?”


Tess Hitchcock worked with Ashleigh to learn about basic watercolor technique and to experiment with abstract design.


Adrienne Kitko’s reflection on the hospital experience sums up the artistic and emotional aspects of their placement.

“Tess, Lia, and I got to the hospital early to set up. While we were waiting at the nurse’s station, I heard doors slowly open, and saw tiny eyes peering at us through the sliver of the open door. We put our stuff down and immediately a curious little girl came up to us, exclaiming that she loves to paint, but only had 10 minutes before her next IV treatment. We all reacted quickly and set this little girl up with a palette of various colors of paints, brushes, a water cup, and let her pick out her own puzzle piece.

Some children collaborated on their puzzle piece together, furthering the community aspect of our project. One mother was sitting and painting with her son. Her husband was running around the ward with the other children, a 20 month-old baby among them. I had no way of knowing which child was sick, but the mother’s face and body language told me all I needed to know as she kept glancing over to the baby. At the end of the night, the family had to say goodbye to the baby and put him in a little metal crib. They thanked us profusely for giving them a night to collaborate with their children through art. That moment is when I realized why I was eager to select this teaching opportunity. 

The next day was my one-on-one lesson with a year old boy named Collin. I had met him the night before and he seemed enthusiastic about art and had some art terms under his belt. I decided to explore the subtractive and additive processes of monotype printing with him. He was shy and not as talkative as I am use to, however he was ready to learn and get his hands messy from the get-go.  He used every tool I brought to experiment with mark making and was very interested in writing “I <3 you” to his mother because he learned one has to write backwards while making a print. Collin made his print by adding paint to an inking plate and using various tools to subtract and explore line qualities and mark making.The best moment of the monotype printing-pulling lesson came when he pulled the paper back to reveal his print.”


sand monster.jpg

 Colin titled his monoprint "Sand Monster.” 

Maine College of Art’s nationally accredited Master of Arts in Teaching program is designed to prepare artists to recognize how their personal attributes and talents enhance and strengthen the learning environment. It is an intensive, ten-month program that blends the worlds of art and education.

Learn more about MECA's MAT program.


Contact: Raffi Der Simonian
Director of Marketing + Communications


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