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Faculty Spotlight on Art Education (MAT) Chair, Fern Tavalin

Posted: 2014-11-24

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Faculty Profile

Fern Tavalin, Professor of Art Education

 

How did you get from a B.A. degree in Economics from Franklin & Marshall to being a professor in the field of Art Education at MECA?

F&M is a liberal arts college. So, while my major was economics, I took several fine arts, language arts and foreign language classes. I especially enjoyed the sculpture studio and metal sculpting in particular. Also, I lived in Belgium and attended a Flemish high school for one year, with a heavy emphasis on aesthetics. The year after I graduated my college built a state-of-the-art photo lab and extended its use to alumni. There, I found a life-long love for photography and subsequently video.

 

What is the most challenging teaching experience you have had? What did you learn from it?

The toughest challenge I had as a teacher was analyzing student performance in social studies and realizing that my methods did not work. It was with that awareness that I turned to integrated arts and hands-on learning. I still required essay exams, so the tests did not change, but my method of teaching and learning shifted radically. As a result, student learning and engagement improved dramatically. From this experience I became an active proponent of arts integration and project-based learning.

 

Much of your professional life has been dedicated to the use of technology. Studio art classes, currently, are tactile experiences. Do you see any change in this facet of art education in the future? Are campuses becoming irrelevant?

Your question begins with a common, mistaken assumption. My approach to technology is to use tactile processes alongside virtual experiences. For instance, when I designed technology-based summer institutes, they included workshops in book arts so that there was literal copying and pasting alongside the virtual. I stressed stop-motion animation so that students could still learn about the properties of clay and other materials along with the subtlety of movement that stop-motion requires. Artists worked with teachers to build plaster body casts to project words from found poetry, generated from personal narratives. These skills and processes, when used in tandem with planning items such as sketching and storyboarding, foster the type of critical thinking and problem solving that embody new standards for student learning. Are campuses irrelevant? It depends upon how they are used. Our MAT candidates need on-site mentoring for the first semester. Student teaching is another matter, though. This year, we sent three people out of state, one as far away as San Francisco.  Given the current state of telecommunication, distance supervision works, and having classroom experiences in other locations enhances seminar discussions.

>>Learn More About Our MAT Program

Holiday Sale and First Friday (December 5 + 6)

Posted: 2014-11-18

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Portland Maine ~ The 2014 MECA Holiday Sale will take place during the December First Friday Art Walk and will run from 5pm to 9pm. The sale is open to the public and all ages are welcome to stop by on December 5th. The vendors, most of which are current students or alumni, line the halls of the school to sell their original art. The Holiday Sale is open the following morning, Saturday December 6th, from 10am until 5pm.

Creative Portland teams up with Portland’s Downtown District to close Congress Street for the Art Walk. On December 5th starting at 5pm Congress Street will be closed from State Street to Monument Square, with High Street remaining open. The December First Friday Art Walk brings in visitors far and wide to see the many galleries and artists who setup along Congress Street, even in the cold weather.

The sale takes place on the first three floors of the MECA Porteous building.

Contact: Raffi Der Simonian
Director of Marketing + Communications
rdersimonian@meca.edu

207.699.5010

MECA Students Rock the Vote

Posted: 2014-10-27

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Charles Melcher's Freshmen Graphic Design class Community Action: Design and Activism created posters to encourage citizens to "Get out the Vote." The posters were following the brief set out by the AIGA "Get Out the Vote" Campaign. The intention of the campaign is to get out the vote, all posters needed to urge voters to vote without a partisan slant.The posters are now on display in the Congress Street windows at the Portland Public Library. 

Chloe Beaven and Caitlin Ervin Public Engagement Fellows for 2014-2015

Posted: 2014-10-23

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Senior Chloe Beaven and junior Caitlin Ervin are the Public Engagement Fellows for 2014-2015. Sophomore Hannah Howard is the Project Assistant. They will receive a financial scholarship and academic credit to design and lead projects and initiatives that focus on building relationships between campus and community. The fellowship is supported with a grant from the Helen and George Ladd Foundation.

Chloe Beaven, a senior in the New Media program, will be partnering with MECA, Seeds of Peace, and Waynflete School in order to increase understanding and support of diversity (especially issues involving race), elevate and further contemplative dialog, and broaden student civic responsibility at MECA. Her projects will include implementing the Big Think Series, monthly dialogs hosted by an artist or academic within the field of socially engaged art or social justice; revitalizing the MECA C.A.R.E diversity group; inviting high school students to work on the Other Side of Shade workshops with the Seeds of Peace students, and develop an annual student exhibit focusing on issues of race; establishing the VIP Vote, an annual early Vote Day at MECA; and increasing programming around MLK day and the attendance at the MLK Breakfast.

Caitlin Ervin, a junior in the Sculpture program, will be partnering with Environment Maine and the MECA Trash Talkers group to focus on environmental projects and sustainability within MECA and the Portland community. Her projects will include assisting with community partner logistics and taking on leadership for Envisioning a Sustainable Society with Professor Dana Sawyer; partnering with and assisting with group projects in Paul Gebhardt's FY-IN class; and co-leading and coordinating environmental programs in MECA's residence halls.

Hannah Howard, an undeclared Sophomore, is also partnering with Environment Maine to work on environmental projects and sustainability within MECA and the Portland community. She will be assisting with all of Caitlin Ervin's projects, in addition to continuing her role as a Resident Assistant in MECA's residence halls.

The Public Engagement program has several community partners, including: Portland Trails, The Island Institute, Bicycle Coalition of Maine, Environment Maine, Camp Susan Curtis, Portland Brick, Avesta Housing, King Middle School, and Seeds of Peace. There are also three Senior Capstone Project Partners, including Planned Parenthood, Waynflete School's Racial Awareness student group, and Portland Brick. Jon Rubin will also be a visiting artist for Public Engagement.

MECA Alum Hannah Rosengren Designs for Greenpeace

Posted: 2014-10-22

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MECA graduate Hannah Rosengren recently worked with the environmental organization Greenpeace to promote their campaign about the Tongass National Forest. Rosengren created an important informational poster which highlighted the diverse ecosystem of the forest with an emphasis on the Alexander Archipelago Wolf. Greenpeace has recently petitioned to protect this species under the Endangered Species Act, and this poster will be mailed out to their numerous supporters.

>> Learn more about the artist

MECA ANNOUNCES CAMPUS DEVELOPMENTS, GROWTH AND IMPROVEMENTS

Posted: 2014-10-13

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FALL 2014 Academic Year Starts off with Largest Incoming Class on Record, Higher Academic Standards and New Programming

Portland, Maine ~ Maine College of Art (MECA) is proud to announce its newest developments for the 2014-2015 academic year. With the largest incoming class the institution has ever seen, recent accreditation of the MAT (Master of Arts in Teaching), and new programming, MECA is determined and well-poised to provide students with more opportunities as one of the leading art schools in New England.

The National Association of Schools of Art and Design, and the State of Maine have recently accredited MECA for it’s ten-month MAT program, which focuses on helping participants meet requirements for Maine’s teacher certification, while also providing the critical and creative engagement expected on a graduate level. Teacher candidates in this program work in various community settings, from urban to rural, formal to informal, and learn to think outside of the box, to improve not only their knowledge, but their students’ learning as well. Museums, summer school programs, and non-profit organizations collaborate with the MAT program to expand candidates experiences. Spring semester student teaching internships prepare candidates to become confident art educators, with both reflective practices, and a lifetime of professional learning.

Thanks to the generous gift and collaboration with the Bob Crewe Foundation, MECA students will soon be able enjoy and explore the intersection between music and art. The new program, which will be implemented during the 2015 academic year, was discussed in April, and an MOU was signed between Dan Crewe and President Don Tuski in June. This program will cover a wide range of topics, all relating back to the relationships between music and art. Some courses for the new program include History of Contemporary Music, Applied Theory Through Composition, Music Business and Management, Ethnomusicology, and more experimental courses like Sound and Color.

Dean Anderson believes that MECA may be one of the first art colleges to explicitly engage in combining the study of contemporary art and design with music; he says, “MECA is uniquely positioned to develop this area because of our size, history and willingness to experiment. This is an exciting period of growth and innovation here at the college.”

MECA is also pleased to announce it’s new Writing Minor, now available for students to develop exceptional communication and deep reading skills. The objective of this Minor is for students to further enrich their artistic journey, culminating in a final personal writing project, intended for publication.

MECA recognizes the growing need for creative problem solvers in an ever-changing, global world, which is why MECA is stepping up to meet that need with more students, better facilities, and increased programs, all available to students so that they can pursue opportunities that go beyond what is simply taught in class. The Maine College of Art is intent on staying true to it’s mission: Educating Artists for Life.

For more information or to schedule an interview with President Donald Tuski, Ph.D., please contact Raffi Der Simonian at 207.699.5010 or rdersimonian@meca.edu.  

Located in the heart of Portland Maine’s fine arts district, MECA offers a BFA degree in 11 studio majors, an MFA in Studio Arts, an MAT, and continuing studies courses for youths and adults.  The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) at MECA and the Joanne Waxman library are free and open to the public.  For more information, please visit www.meca.edu.

 

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Richard Blanco Releases New Memoir: The Prince of Ios Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood

Posted: 2014-10-02

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2014 MECA COMMENCEMENT SPEAKER, RICHARD BLANCO, RELEASES NEW BOOK

 

Announcing the release of Richard Blanco’s The Prince of los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood, a poignant, hilarious, and inspiring memoir from the first Latino and openly gay inaugural poet. A vivid account of Blanco's coming of age as the child of Cuban immigrants and his effort to contend with his burgeoning artistic and sexual identities. This book evokes the complexities and glories—and humor—of navigating his two imaginary worlds: the Cuba of the 1950s that his family longed for and his own idealized America.

Order online now

Scott Nash designs PMA family guide

Posted: 2014-10-01

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Illustration Program Chair and Assistant Professor Scott Nash recently designed the new PMA Family Guide for the Portland Museum of Art. 

Here's a little more info on the guide: 

"The new PMA Family Guide, which will be available at the Visitor Experience Desk, allows children and parents to see the museum in a new way. Developed by the PMA's Learning and Interpretation department in conjunction with Portland's Nashbox Design and Illustration, the PMA Family Guide encourages kids to lead their families through the galleries, interact with the work on display, and experience the museum as an adventure. Collector cards and an accompanying map send families hunting for iconic works of the PMA collection, and help children develop critical thinking, art appreciation, and communication skills-in addition to being nifty keepsakes and a whole lot of fun."
 

Maine College of Art and The Bob Crewe Foundation Sign MOU And Begin Planning Curriculum for New Music Program

Posted: 2014-06-25

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | June 24, 2014

  

 

Maine College of Art and The Bob Crewe Foundation Sign MOU

And Begin Planning Curriculum for New Music Program

 

Portland, Maine ~ Last Wednesday, June 18, Maine College of Art worked alongside The Bob Crewe Foundation and local thought leaders to sculpt a curriculum for the new area of study that will explore the intersection between music and art, which will be implemented later, in the 2015 acedemic year.  During the meeting, the participants discussed what the new program would look like. An official signing of a MOU with President Don Tuski and Dan Crewe followed the meeting.

Those in attendance were Dan Crewe (President/Chairman of the Bob Crewe Foundation and Independent Music Professional), Don Tuski (President, MECA), Ian Anderson (Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the College, MECA), Spencer Albee (Musician, Singer and Songwriter), Adam Ayan (Master Engineer, Gateway Recording; Adjunct Faculty at USM’s School of Music), Bob Ludwig (Mastering engineer/Owner, Gateway Recording), and many more.

The new program is possible due to a generous gift given to the college by The Bob Crewe Foundation in April. The curriculum will explore a wide range of topics and subject matter relating to the interplay between music and art. A sampling of courses for the new minor include History of Contemporary Music, Applied Theory Through Composition, Music Business and Management, Ethnomusicology, and experimental courses like Sound and Color.

Dean Anderson believes that MECA may be one of the first art colleges to explicitly engage in combining the study of contemporary art and design with music; he says, “MECA is uniquely positioned to develop this area because of our size, history and willingness to experiment. This is an exciting period of growth and innovation here at the college.”

 

CONTACT: Raffi Der Simonian

Director of Marketing & Communications

rdersimonian@meca.edu | 207.756.0916

 

MECA Announces MAT Accreditation

Posted: 2014-05-21

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MECA Announces MAT Accreditation 


 

Portland, ME ~ Maine College of Art (MECA) is pleased to announce the recent accreditation of a ten-month MAT program, approved by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design and the State of Maine. The MAT is designed so that participants meet Maine’s requirements for initial teacher certification while providing the critical and creative engagement expected at the graduate level.

From the first day of class, teacher candidates interact with children and youth in schools and in community settings. Museums, summer school programs and non-profit organizations collaborate with MECA and the MAT program to provide a rich learning environment for art content specific and arts-integrated explorations. Candidates work in a variety of settings, urban and rural, formal and informal. Student teaching internships in the spring semester prepare candidates to begin their careers as confident art educators.

Through collaborative inquiry and action research, teacher candidates learn to try new ideas and collect the evidence needed to improve their teaching and their students’ learning. This process establishes a vehicle for reflective practice and a lifetime of professional learning.

A few spaces are still available for the upcoming 2014-2015 cohort. Candidates are selected on the basis of a strong art portfolio and the academic potential to complete a master’s program. For more information please visit http://www.meca.edu, or contact the Admissions Office.

Contact: Raffi Der Simonian

Director of Marketing

rdersimonian@meca.edu

207.699.5010