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Monhegan Residency

Posted: 2015-05-04

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Alina Gallo (MFA '08), Botanical Study: Mushrooms

"The Monhegan Artists’ Residency supports the creative growth of dedicated Maine artists by providing them time and space in which to work free of interruption and constraint in the inspiring environment of Monhegan Island."

The program offers living quarters, studio space, and a $100 per week stipend for a five-week period. One residency is peak summer, one in late summer/early fall. There are three residencies per summer, two for artists and one for an art educator.

MECA alumni who recently received the residency:
2015: Justin Richel '02
2014: Victoria Statsenko '14
2013: Kristin Fitzpatrick '13
2011: Alina Gallo, MFA '08

Other alumni recipients since its inception in 1989:
Cyndi Davis '90,
Nicole Duennebier '05,
Joe Kievitt '93,
Connie Hayes '80,
Margaret Leonard '82,
Martha Miller '06

2015 BFA, MFA & MAT Commencement

Posted: 2015-04-30

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2015 BFA, MFA & MAT Commencement
Saturday, May 9, 10am
State Theater, 609 Congress St, Portland, ME 04101
 
Reception immediately following at Maine College of Art, The Porteous Building, 522 Congress St., Portland, Maine

Thomas Moser, Founder of Maine’s Thos Moser, Cabinetmakers will deliver the Commencement address at Maine College of Art’s 104th Commencement, which begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 9 at the State Theatre at 609 Congress Street.

Formerly a Bates College professor, Tom Moser left teaching in 1972 to restore the lost art of fine woodworking by making one-of-a-kind furniture in an old Grange Hall in New Gloucester, Maine. Throughout his life he had always been making things out of wood and after 15 years decided to leave academia to devote himself to his true passion, woodworking. Moser notes, “If you enjoy what you do, you never work a day in your life.” During the last forty years, the company has grown from a one-man operation to nearly 70 cabinetmakers (about half men and half women), with clients and collectors around the world.  
 
“For Maine College of Art students to hear from one of Maine’s best creative entrepreneurs as they graduate and embark on a career as an artist is a great opportunity,” said President Donald Tuski.  “Tom’s career demonstrates how art, craft, design and entrepreneurship can come together.”

Thomas Moser: Legacy in Wood opens in MECA’s ICA on July 22 and runs through September 21.  The exhibit surveys Thos Moser, Cabinetmakers 44 years of engagement with wood.  The work included in the exhibition spans four decades; in many instances walking the viewer through the growth of a chair from early design iterations through several design changes or variations on a central theme, always returning to what Moser via Plato calls "ultimate chairness." This Institute of Contemporary Art at Maine College of Art retrospective is the first exhibition to examine the central importance of Thomas Moser to the world of fine furniture craftsmanship.

The college will also confer honorary degrees on Ashley Bryan and June Fitzpatrick.

Writer, poet and illustrator of children’s books, Ashley Bryan doesn’t speak his stories, he sings them, fingers snapping, feet tapping, his voice articulating. Born in 1923, Ashley entered the tuition-free Cooper Union School of Art and Engineering, having been denied entry elsewhere because of his race. Following service in World War Two and a career of teaching art at several schools and universities, Bryan retired  in the 1980s to Maine’s Cranberry Isles as professor emeritus of Dartmouth College. He continues to paint, write, and illustrate at 92.

June Fitzpatrick owns the independent June Fitzpatrick Gallery housed within Maine College of Art, which holds a central position in the heart of Portland’s Arts District and is a destination point for local, regional and international collectors. June supports MECA students and alumni with annual exhibitions, including Ten Years After, which showcases MECA painting majors one decade after their graduation, the annual BFA Thesis Exhibition, and MECA’s annual staff show.

Donald Tuski, Ph.D, president of MECA, will confer the honorary degrees. “It is a profound honor to recognize the accomplishments of these distinguished individuals and welcome them to our alumni ranks,” said Tuski.

East to East to Open in the ICA

Posted: 2015-04-30

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East to East

The show will be open from June 5 – July 3, 2015

Curator's Statement

Two Maine artists return home – elin o'Hara slavick with After Hiroshima, a project from the Far East, and Shane C. Smith with Avi Form – a project about the Downeast Penobscot living on Indian Island, Maine.

Both artists pay special attention to the specific cultural sites on which they work or to which they refer - Hiroshima, Japan (the Far East) and the Native lands of the (near Downeast) coast of Maine. The archive, cultural memory, the past and its power in the present, loss of histories, people and lands, artifacts, the performative gestures of remembering, honoring and witnessing all play important parts in this work. East to East investigates these dynamic explorations of history, memory, loss, language that artists make as cultural storytellers and producers. The work is deeply engaged in the physical trace - be it photographic, indexical, handmade, sculptural, textual or performative.

Elin o'Hara slavick grew up in Portland, Maine, and took her first photography class at the Portland School of Art (now MECA). Slavick, who has never shown in Maine, is currently a Professor and the Director of Graduate Studies in Studio Art, Theory and Practice at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she worked with Shane C. Smith on an independent study for fall, 2014 semester, in which he produced some of the work in this exhibition.

Shane C. Smith was born in Bangor and grew up in Milford, Maine, between Old Town, Indian Island and French Island. Smith, a conceptual and performance artist, utilizes an intermedia approach to investigate the subject and language within histories as they relate to place. His socially based practice has lead to designing and building a playground in Uganda, Africa and a stop-motion film featuring Penobscot Native American mythology that premiered at the Taos, New Mexico Talking Picture Show. After earning his MFA from UNC, Chapel Hill, he will continue his studio practice in New York City.

For the artists, this exhibition grows out of the mutually beneficial and equally challenging relationship between mentor and mentee. One instructs the other and the other teaches a new language.

Reggio-Inspired Conference at MECA

Posted: 2015-04-22

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WITNESSING CULTURAL CHANGE
REGGIO-INFORMED DOCUMENTATION AS A MEANS OF UNDERSTANDING THE IMMIGRANT JOURNEY

>> 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.

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 brickstoremuseum.org 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 (snash@meca.edu).

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 brickstoremuseum.org 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 (snash@meca.edu).

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 meca.edu/essaycontest.  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
207.699.5060
ccook@meca.edu

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 Typographica.com 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.

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 www.mainetoday.com/mammslam.  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.”

ABOUT THE MAMM SLAM:

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 MaineToday.com, The Rusty Rocket Music Fund, freezingprocess.net, 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 www.mainetoday.com/mammslam.

 

ABOUT MAMM:

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:

207.899.3433

info@maineacademyofmodernmusic.org

www.facebook.com/MAMMRocks

www.maineacademyofmodernmusic.org

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

FREE ADMISSION

Post film discussion and snacks provided by Rosemont Market and Bakery. Seating limited. To reserve a spot go to: brownpapertickets.com/event/1321362 

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:

MY FATHER'S GARDEN  

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

MECA and Portland Stage Announce New Partnership

Posted: 2015-01-15

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PORTLAND STAGE + MAINE COLLEGE OF ART ANNOUNCE NEW PARTNERSHIP


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.edu/precollege.

 

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 ephelan@portlandstage.org.

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.

 puzzle.jpg

 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?”

ashleigh.jpg 

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
rdersimonian@meca.edu
207.699.5010

 

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