Archive for November, 2016


In Today’s News

November 30, 2016

Amy: “I thought, how can I help teach more compassion and empathy and love? There must be a way to do that through music.

Photograph by Ben McCanna

Photograph by Ben McCanna

Biddeford Middle School music educator Amy Delorge is changing the way she teaches in response to what she’s observed since the recent election. She’s teaching students about social justice. In the spring, the school’s 120 band students will learn, through music, about the Japanese internment camps in the United States during World War II, Delorge said. She was led to that decision, she said, by the recent turmoil surrounding the presidential campaign and a film she saw at an Asian-American film festival last summer.

Congratulations goes to Amy as one of 25 semifinalists nationwide for a “music educator of the year” award given by Music & Arts, a nationwide retailer of band and orchestra equipment. The winner will be named Dec. 15.
To read the entire article from the Portland Press Herald, written by Noel K. Gallagher, please CLICK HERE.


In Today’s News

November 29, 2016

Funding available

November 29, 2016                                                                                 1-877-700-6800


ELLSWORTH—The Maine Community Foundation invites teachers at Penobscot County and Washington County public elementary schools to apply for support to bring the arts into their classrooms.

The Leonard and Renee Minsky Fund for Arts Education will grant up to six awards, up to $1,000 each, to teachers in grades 3 to 5 who want to integrate art into the standard curriculum.

The fund’s advisory committee is particularly interested in funding innovative and collaborative projects with professional artists from the visual and/or performing arts, including but not limited to film, video, and other media; theater arts, music, and dance; and creative writing.

Applications must be postmarked by December 15, 2016. Complete guidelines and applications are available at For more information, contact Cathy Melio at or by phone, toll-free, at (877) 700-6800.

A statewide organization with offices in Ellsworth and Portland, the Maine Community Foundation works with donors and other partners to improve the quality of life for all Maine people. For questions or more information, visit or call 1-877-700-6800.


Ticket to Ride Funding Available

November 29, 2016

Just in time

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-10-19-11-pmWe’ve just learned that funding is once again available for the Maine Arts Commission Ticket to Ride program. If you are unfamiliar with the program below is the information.

The Ticket to Ride program began in 2010 with start up funding provided by the Jane B. Cook 1992 Charitable Trust and matched by the Maine Arts Commission. In 2011, the agency received support from the Betterment Fund that will allow the program to continue for an additional three years.

The program provides funding to defray the cost of travel for Maine schools wishing to visit Maine arts based venues and events as part of a well rounded curriculum. Any PK-12 school in Maine is eligible to receive support of up to $300 each school year and any PK-12 school in Maine with a documented free and reduced lunch student population of 50 percent or greater is eligible to receive support of up to $500 each school year.

Ticket to Ride is the Maine Arts Commission’s response to the decline in school day student attendance at Maine arts based venues and events. This decline has been directly linked to the increase in cost of transportation and has impacted both Maine students as well as the venues and organizations that rely on the sale of student tickets to fuel the creative economy and to provide out of school arts education.

Ticket to Ride is designed for ease of administration; school personnel need only download and complete a two-page document to be eligible for funding. The only other requirement is the submission of follow-up documentation that includes teacher feedback and student work samples of the experience. This final report helps the Maine Arts Commission secure funding to continue the Ticket to Ride program.

The Maine Arts Commission respectfully requests that Ticket to Ride funds not be used to replace existing transportation funds in school budgets but rather to supplement them when necessary. Schools are welcome to use Ticket to Ride funds in combination with transportation funds that may be available from individual Maine arts based venues and events.

For program guidelines and access the application please CLICK HERE.



Data Visualization

November 28, 2016

And visual communication

Two woman, Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec, met each other and within a short time decided to start a collaborative project. Georgia is from New York and Stefanie from London. They were struck by how many similarities they shared, both personal and work. They challenged themselves to get to know each other better and they did this using data. Each week they sent each other a postcard filled with information. They told stories and in doing so learned about each other. They call their project Dear Data and after a year they became very good friends.


image from the website

In their own words: “This was a project where we put all of ourselves as human beings and designers into this radical experimentation: approaching the data we collected from as snapshots of our days and lives, and sketching our personalities for the other person to discover with the most contemporary material, data.

They put the 104 post cards into a book and they’ve received awards and recognition beyond their wildest dreams. And, in early November Dear Data has been acquired by the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) for their permanent collection.

Read more about this fantastic idea by CLICKING HERE.


Gallery Walk

November 27, 2016

The Art of Ed

From the blog, The Art of Ed, Why Your Next Critique Should Be A Gallery Walk. Check it out by CLICKING HERE.

Below are some possible jumping off questions suggested from the post:

  • What do you think is the message of my piece?
  • What does the symbolism say about me?
  • What do you feel is the biggest strength in my composition?
  • How could I use my negative space differently?
  • What do you think I can improve most for next time?

Yarmouth High School

November 26, 2016

Teaching Artist and Art Teacher collaborate

screen-shot-2016-11-25-at-2-23-12-pmFor two weeks this month, Tim Christensen was a visiting artist in Holly Houston’s high school visual art classes at Yarmouth High School. In Advanced Placement Art (AP), Advanced Drawing and Painting (ADP), Ceramics I, and Art Fundamentals, Tim and Holly have led the students through a project documenting the systems around endangered United States animals, from beluga whales to ocelots, from Key deer to orcas. As well, most days after hours, the art room has been open to students from the entire school to come learn to work on the potter’s wheel independently, creating a busy and vibrant creative space where students could start to find new uses for their creative voice.

screen-shot-2016-11-25-at-2-23-28-pmThree approaches were used with the art classes. AP and ADP worked with8x8 clay slabs, creating a visual design capable of communicating the facts and challenges discovered during their research into their animal. These designs were etched onto black slip on white porcelain, using the sgraffito method, a 6000 year old practice traditionally used to create culturally vital historical documents in a visual way.

screen-shot-2016-11-25-at-2-23-48-pmSimilarly, Art Fundamentals created hollow bodied sculptures of their organism, and covered their sculpture with their interpretation of vital biological system data related to their animal.

Ceramics I concentrated on the wheel, producing numerous vessels on which to scribe their interpretations of the data, paying attention to form and line, and the technical intricacies of wheel thrown pottery.

screen-shot-2016-11-25-at-2-30-41-pmCombining the challenges of working with clay and sgraffito with a subject of personal interest and relevancy fosters an investment in the work, and allows students to overcome big challenges, finding multiple correct ways of communicating and creating. Students assisted in defining the assessable goals of the project, and have been able to gauge their progress through formative self-assessment by understanding the proficiencies they must demonstrate in the execution of the project. How they show those proficiencies is up to them.

screen-shot-2016-11-25-at-2-30-59-pmWhen Holly and Tim work together in the classroom, they communicate beforehand about the tasks that will be demonstrated and skills introduced for each class session, and share observations or areas of concern or elation for each incoming group of artists. During the session, they address issues and answer questions, provide encouragement or demonstrate techniques, often referring the other to students in need of a little extra attention. As a team, they are able to bring a broad range of experiences and skills to bear, and the students benefit from having multiple perspectives on the challenges they are tasked with meeting.

Holly and Tim met in person or communicated online numerous times over 6 months before the residency began, working together to secure funding, align project goals, schedule both the residency and the flow of each project, and to brainstorm the nuts and bolts of each challenge.



This project was funded by the Yarmouth Education Foundation. All photos by Holly Houston. Tim is a member of the Maine Arts Commission (MAC) teaching artists roster located by CLICKING HERE and available for hire.

Thanks to Tim for providing this information for the blog post.


Arts and Engineering Team

November 25, 2016

National Science Foundation supporting arts education

Recently I learned about Aaron Knochel from his mother in law, Judy Fricke. Judy is a Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teacher Leader whose focus is on early childhood music education. Aaron is an assistant professor of art education who is leading an arts interdisciplinary team at Penn State. They just received a two-year grant for $299,780f rom the National Science Foundation to design and build a mobile makerspace to explore informal learning in science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) subjects.

“According to Graeme Sullivan, director of the Penn State School of Visual Arts, the significance of an NSF grant for a collaborative project involving faculty from the School of Visual Arts and College of Engineering cannot be overstated. “It affirms an educational investment in studio-based research practices of thinking and doing that make use of the best attributes of human curiosity, problem-seeking, and problem-solving,” said Sullivan.”

You can learn more about Aaron by CLICKING HERE. And, read more of the article that explains the work that Aaron and the team are doing by CLICKING HERE.


Happy Thanksgiving!

November 24, 2016


I have so much to be grateful for this year! Taking time today to think about what Thanksgiving means to me, includes my work at the Maine Arts Commission (MAC). I feel so fortunate to work at MAC and to be doing the work that I do. I often say that I am exactly where I am meant to be, and today that rings more true than ever.

So, what I am grateful for? Let me share the ways…

  • I am so very grateful for the work that visual and performing arts educators do to provide an excellent arts education for all students!


  • I am grateful for the opportunity to visit schools and teachers and students of the arts across the state of Maine on a regular basis. (If I haven’t visited your school please don’t hesitate to invite me)!
  • I am grateful for the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative and the collaborative spirit and willingness of teachers to step up and take on a leadership role – sharing their learning and knowledge in the name of Maine Arts Education.
  • I am grateful that so many teachers and administrators completed the Maine Arts Education census survey so we could have data from 95% of Maine schools.
  • I am grateful to live in Maine where in spite of daily challenges, the health of Maine Arts Education is in a really good place! In many school districts the arts are at the center of education and arts teachers are leading the proficiency based education work that is underway. The census has shown us that almost all schools in the state offer at least one arts discipline for learners.
  • I am grateful that so many visual and performing arts educators are committed to always moving forward and participating in professional development to expand and build on their knowledge.
  • I am grateful that the student is at the heart of visual and performing arts education.
  • I am grateful for this blog and list-serv so I can communicate with you and learn about the outstanding work you do every day for all Maine learners and learners throughout the country.
  • I am grateful that you’ve put your trust in me!

Best wishes for a very happy Thanksgiving, wherever you may be today! Thank you for everything that you do to provide an excellent arts education and access to it for every learner!


The Art of Memory

November 23, 2016

Working on the outer islands

Teaching Artist and Director of Education for Figures of Speech Theatre Ian Bannon isn’t afraid to take on challenging ideas and make them into something lasting for learners.

Last year Figures of Speech Theatre and the Island Institute partnered to produce “The Art of Memory: Stories from Maine’s Outer Islands,” a shadow puppet film based on oral histories gathered on some of Maine’s most remote islands. He traveled from island to island during the spring of 2015 working with students to create the video. For details of the work please CLICK HERE.

You can view the 5-minute behind-the-scenes documentary by CLICKING HERE. And, the full 35-minute film at THIS LINK.

Ian is on the Maine Arts Commission Teaching Artist roster and this project was partially funded by the Maine Arts Commission.


Figures of Speech Theatre creates and tours visionary works of performance forged at the intersection of poetry, music, sculpture and dance.Whether the work is an adaptation of a simple Comanche Indian legend, the recitation of T.S. Eliot poetry, or a silent, visual tapestry surrounding a piece of contemporary classical music, our dream is to create theater in which the form of the work so intricately meshes with the content of the work that the two are as one, and each invisibly reinforces the other. As Doris Lessing has said, “The story dictates the means of telling it.”

Drawing on the artistic genius of many collaborators, the company guides adventurous audiences on journeys where, in the words of one reviewer, “layers of reality vs. abstraction, of reality vs. performance, of perception itself, are gently explored.”

The company has toured all over the world – from Sofia, Bulgaria to Tokyo, Japan, to Lima, Peru. Besides performing at venues such as the Kennedy Center, the Smithsonian Institution, and the New Victory Theatre on Broadway, the company retains a strong commitment to teaching and performing throughout its home state of Maine.


MALI Mega Ellsworth

November 22, 2016

Wonderful learning

img_4488The first Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Regional conference took place yesterday at Ellsworth High School. The participants were appreciative of the opportunity, not just to attend and learn in the formal sessions, but to have the chance to network with other arts educators.

Each participant attended two sessions in the morning from the following selection:

  • img_4412

    Illustrating to Write session

    Where are your Art Standards within the Studio Habits of Mind! with Jane Snider, Hancock Grammar School

  • Ellsworth High School VPA Academy  with Rebecca Wright, Leah Olson, Shannon Westphal, Ellsworth High School
  • More Cowbell with Tim Hart, MLTI
  • Illustrating to Write with Ann Marie Quirion Hutton, MLTI
  • Bringing it All Together with Sue Barre, Waterville High School
  • img_4439

    Evidence of Learning Through Google

    Evidence of Learning Through Google with Charlie Johnson, Mount Desert Island High School

  • Visual Notetaking/Doodling in Class with Ann Marie Quirion Hutton, MLTI
  • Making 8-bit Art with Tim Hart, MLTI


A great big thanks to all of the MALI Teacher Leaders and MLTI session presenters. Without your willingness, commitment, and leadership we wouldn’t be able to have the Mega conferences.

Thank you to the Ellsworth High School VPA boosters club who provided lunch – it was all mmmmmmm!

Director of the Maine Arts Commission Julie Richard joined us in the afternoon. Teaching artist and dancer Nancy Salmon led us movement that got us ready for the afternoon. Beth Lambert from the Maine Department of Education  joined me in providing foundational information on the statewide arts education census that was conducted during the 2015-16 school year.

The day ended with some great door prizes. Thanks to those who contributed. The next MALI Mega Regional conference takes place on Wednesday, January 4 at USM, Portland. Please CLICK HERE for information and registration.


MAC Executive Director Julie Richard

Teaching Artist and dancer Nancy Salmon

Teaching Artist and dancer Nancy Salmon

Participants moving with Nancy Salmon

Participants moving with Nancy Salmon

Ellsworth High School art teachers sharing a funny moment

Ellsworth High School art teachers sharing a funny moment

Participants at lunchtime

Participants at lunchtime

Sue Barre presenting Bringing it all Together, her assessment system

Sue Barre presenting Bringing it all Together, her assessment system

Participants sharing lunchtime

Participants at lunchtime

Discussing the census information

Discussing the census information

More Cowbell session

More Cowbell session


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