Archive for the ‘Communication’ Category

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HundrED

April 3, 2022

Accepting applications

If you’re interested in connecting with a global audience of educators, please read this post. I’ve blogged about HundrED in the past. In 2018 I was selected as a HundrED Ambassador and was invited to attend the HundrED Summit in Helsinki in 2018 and 19. I met amazing educators from around the world. Some of my follow up roles with HundrED have been to assist in the selection of innovations that best represent HundrED’s mission.

What is HundrED?

HundrED is a global education non-profit, recognized as one of the world’s leading experts on scalable innovations in K-12 education. HundrED’s mission is to help every child flourish in life by giving them access to the best possible education innovations. HundrED annually selects 100 leading education innovations globally packages and shares their amazing work with the world, for free. 

Applications are open for the HundrED 2023 Global Collection – DEADLINE: JUNE 1ST, 2022 

Are you an education innovator? We want to hear from you! Submit your initiative to the HundrED 2023 Global Collection before June 1st, 2022. If you are not an innovator, but know an organization doing great work in the field of education, send us an email at research@hundred.org with a link to their website. APPLICATION.

In addition HundrED has put together a Social & Emotional Learning Spotlight Report that can be downloaded.

In an unprecedented way, the global pandemic has highlighted the importance of building social and emotional skills (SEL) to help children thrive in school, the workplace, and life. In this report we highlight 13 of the most impactful and scalable education innovations fostering SEL skills in students. In addition, the report offers 5 successful strategies for implementing these programs. 

HundrED and Ukraine

Of course HundrED has Innovators and Ambassadors from Ukraine. They’re reaching out to these people and in this writing you can read about the crisis from a Ukrainian teachers perspective. In addition HundrEd provides resources on how to speak with children about the crisis in Ukraine.

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MAEA Spring Conference

March 19, 2022

Don’t delay – register today!

With a few spaces left to attend the spring conference, the Maine Art Education Association (MAEA) is extending the deadline – don’t delay. How wonderful it is to know that teachers can come together IN PERSON for professional development once again. Join colleagues from across the state on April 2, 9:00 a.m.-3:30 p.m. MAEA is partnering with the Center for Maine Contemporary Art and the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland to offer this learning opportunity for Maine teachers who are *members of MAEA. Register at THIS LINK.

Keynote will be given by Medomak Valley High School teacher and artist Krisanne Baker. Daniel Salomon from Camden Hills Regional High School is a guest speaker. Several members of the Downtown Rockland Association are offering a discount during the conference including restaurant.

**You can become a member at the same time you register. Ignore the registration deadline below.

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Nicholas Parker’s Story

February 26, 2022

Musical journey and it’s impact on something larger

This is a story about Nicholas Parker but his story is especially poignant at this time with the invasion by Russia of Ukraine earlier this week. Samantha Smith was a 10 year old girl living in Manchester, Maine when, in 1982, she wrote to the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Yuri AndropovI. She was seeking to understand why the relations between the Soviet Union and the United States were so tense. Her question and bravery prompted a response and made a huge difference. She received an invitation to the Soviet Union and became a Goodwill Ambassador. Sadly, Samantha, at the age of 13, and her father, died in a plane crash. Her spirit and commitment to peace lives on. I pray for peace for the people of Ukraine.

If we could be friends by just getting to know each other better, then what are our countries really arguing about? Nothing could be more important than not having a war if a war could kill everything.” ~Samantha Smith

NICHOLAS PARKER’S STORY

As many young children do when there is a piano in the house Nicholas started ‘playing’ random notes for fun at an early age. At age 9 he started taking piano lessons from Amy Irish. At the time, he knew how to play “Do-Re-Mifrom The Sound of Music using solely his pointer finger. Amy taught him to develop his piano abilities and he fell in love with the instrument over the next decade.

PLEASE NOTE: All of the indented bold and italic sections below are quotes from Nicholas Parker.

“Plunking around on the piano and coming up with my own melodies has been one of my favorite activities since the beginning, though I never really put my efforts into writing a complete piece until the eighth grade.”

Nicholas playing Do-Re-Mi

In 2014 while in grade 8 at Reeds Brook School in Hampden Nicholas had Karyn Field for a teacher. Students were engaged in project based learning using Meridian Stories. Along with teaching Karyn was the Civil Rights Advisor so she decided to reach out to Rob Shetterly and Americans Who Tell the Truth (AWTT) to enrich the opportunities for student learning. Rob brought some of his large portraits to school to hang in the library. Students selected a portrait from Rob’s collection and were assigned to do some sort of creative project on that person. Nicholas chose Samantha Smith.

I chose Samantha Smith, a girl from Maine who, in the ‘80s, was known as America’s Youngest Ambassador, and who traveled to the Soviet Union as a peace activist at the height of the Cold War. For my project, I wrote a piano piece about Samantha’s life.

Piano recital with Amy Irish

For several days Nicholas worked independently in the music room while writing the piece about Samantha Smith. Karyn remembers checking in with him periodically to hear what he was accomplishing. Nick used his musical abilities and combined them with Samantha Smith; an ideal project in many ways.

When Rob and AWTT staff saw and heard what Nicholas had accomplished they were very impressed. A conversation followed and out of this grew the ongoing AWTT project offered each year to middle students. The Samantha Smith Challenge (SSC) is a dynamic educational program for middle and high school students that uses the creative arts to build a bridge between the classroom and the world as students become compassionate, courageous, and engaged citizens. SSC projects teach students that, no matter what age, they can be part of solving the challenges and problems they see around them and work for the common good.

“Looking back, I would have written the piece a bit differently now (on account of my skills having developed significantly since I was 13), but the music nevertheless managed to elicit a response from Mr. Shetterly, who was present when we displayed our projects.”

Playing on a street piano

Karyn shared that Nicholas was a confident and very humble student. He was provided an amazing opportunity to take what someone did that created change and through Rob’s painting of Samantha, together they elevated her voice. Nicholas was invited, while in high school, to speak at the New England League of Middle Schools annual dinner. Karyn said: “Through his passion and intelligence and his gifts he opened doors for others students and served as a good role model.”

“Seeing the impact my project had on Mr. Shetterly and the creation of the Samantha Smith Challenge was wonderful. Since then, I’ve loved staying in touch with AWTT when I’m able, and have enjoyed learning much more in the fields of piano performance and composition.”

Nicholas returned at Christmas from a semester studying in Italy. He took time to provide an update what he’s doing and some of his thinking.

“Today, I am headed into my senior year at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, where I am majoring in Music and Italian Studies. While I have grown a lot in my abilities, I must admit that I’m still trying to figure out what it is that I want to write (and how to write it). George Winston, whose CDs my parents used to play when I was growing up, is a source of much inspiration. His seasonal albums are some of my favorites, and the way in which he captures natural settings through the piano is exceptional. 

Working on music while in Italy last fall

The opportunity to teach music to others has presented itself in recent years as well, and I have found myself working with a few students—albeit largely in a virtual format—on the fundamentals of music and piano-playing. To introduce people to the piano has been an immense joy, and quite often has made me think of the importance of the arts and music in education. I personally have learned at least as much from studying music as I have from any science or math course, and in fact have found that the subjects of music and science are not quite so different. And yet, when it comes to many schools (especially those in less-privileged areas or with less funding), the arts and music programs are all too often the first on the chopping block. The benefits of music in education are plentiful, but inclusion and accessibility are indispensable when it comes to having an impact on students’ development.

Nick performing the Samantha Smith piece he wrote:

As was stated by Stanford University professor Eliot Eisner (quoted previously on this blog), “The arts make vivid the fact that neither words in their literal form nor numbers exhaust what we can know. The limits of our language do not define the limits of our cognition.” Whether by aiding in telling the story of Samantha Smith, or by helping me explore the natural world around us in a way that words and numbers cannot, music has occupied a space in my life that nothing else could. It’s impact on me has in turn given me the potential to impact a little bit of my corner of the world, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

AWTT Education Director Connie Carter has valued her time working with Nicholas and said the following: “Besides being the catalyst for AWTT’s education program the Samantha Smith Challenge, Nick has continued to be a strong voice for courageous student activism.  He has spoken at conferences about AWTT and was a critical voice in our strategic planning process.  Listening to Nick talk about the importance of finding and using one’s voice is like listening to a beautiful musical composition  — full of meaning, compassion, and inspiration.”

It was such a gift to converse with Nicholas and hear his story. His journey in many ways is just beginning, especially to those of us who have been around for many years. But, his musical journey started many years ago as a small child. I’m grateful Nicholas shared his story and I’m sure it will inspire and remind us how important it is to provide learning opportunities in the arts for all.

If you have a student or a former student whose story will inspire please contact me at meartsed@gmail.com!

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Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts

January 27, 2022

What a gift the glacier left

The word watershed (noun) means a time when an important change takes place. Over the years Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts, located in Newcastle, Maine has shifted and grown as changes were needed and I’d say most, if not all, were important to the organization. At its inception the focus was on bringing artists together to learn and create. And, for many years Watershed has offered professional development for educators, many of them Maine K-12 visual art teachers.

Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts story started thousands of years ago. There is an abundance of glacial marine clay from the mountains to the sea because at one point Maine was covered by a giant glacier. Watershed is located in Newcastle, a place that has an abundance of clay with a blue-green tinge. Clay can be found throughout our state along banks of rivers and streams and also in fields. Sometimes it takes time to locate; it can be very pure or filled with other components that need to be picked and sifted out. Fortunately, one of the resources that Watershed provides for teachers is a video depicting the exploration to find clay.

This blog post tells the story of Watershed with several topics; history, philosophy, educational opportunities, audience, pandemic – ups and downs, changes underway, and supporting Watershed. Some of the blog content is taken directly from Watershed’s website; some is provided by the founders, teachers who have taken workshops, artist working at the center, and some from staff. A great big thanks to Claire Brassil, Watershed’s Outreach & Communications Director for her assistance with this post.

Original studio space

HISTORY

The history of Watershed begins with the geological gift of clay found along the banks of local rivers in midcoast Maine. For much of the 19th century, the local community relied on vital income from the manufacturing of waterstruck brick (so called because it was made from a wet mixture of clay and water). Waterstruck brick had lasting historical appeal, and in the 1970s an attempt was made to re-establish its manufacture on the site that is now the Watershed campus in Newcastle. While the brick business folded after a year, a group of artists became inspired to make use of the abandoned factory and the tons of local marine clay left at the site.

In 1986, Margaret Griggs, George Mason, Lynn Duryea and Chris Gustin collaborated on a new vision for the brick-making factory—as a place for clay artists to live and work in community. The open layout of the facility encouraged the artists to approach their work with a new vigor and awareness, and the seeds for what would become Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts took hold.

Founders George Mason, Lynn Duryea and Chris Gustin

During Watershed’s early years, small groups of 10-12 artists would spend the summer living and working together on the campus. The first residents formed connections and friendships in a space that provided opportunities to create without hierarchy. Artists developed their personal work and envisioned new possibilities for a creative community. Watershed soon began to attract artists from far corners of the world who sought a creative environment in which to engage and explore. Today, more than 100 artists a year come to Watershed to create and connect with like-minded makers.

I’ve been fortunate to know Ceramic Artist George Mason for many years. In 1987 he created a Percent for Art Project at the new school building where I was teaching in Union. He is an amazing, thoughtful and kind artist. When I asked George what his vision was when he first came together with his colleagues, this was his response:

You know, this all started among friends inviting friends. We sensed a creative opportunity to find out what might unfold by just living and working together with no aesthetic agenda or expectation of result. Even before the name Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts came into being after the first season, this place was already a refuge apart from career; where the magic of relationship and creativity had the space to spark the unexpected.

PHILOSOPHY

Central to Watershed’s philosophy is a belief that the unexpected sparks creativity and that new people, ideas and spaces nurture the evolution of artistic practice. Our dual mission is to provide artists with time and space to explore ideas with clay; and to promote public awareness of the ceramic arts. Through residencies, workshops, public events, talks and exhibitions, Watershed supports the process and work of clay artists from around the country and world.

This video on youtube is very informative.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES, YES FOR TEACHERS

Watershed offers educational programs and resources for grades K-12 art teachers and students of all ages. From workshops and classroom-based experiences, to professional development and online tutorials, Watershed works to support ceramic art educators and the next generation of ceramists.

Watershed provides professional development opportunities; workshops, residencies, and resources. Teachers hone their clay education skills, develop curricula, and connect with other educators from around the state. Watershed provides newly created online tutorials, Digging & Processing Wild Clay and Raku Firing, developed by Teaching Artist Malley Weber.

Teaching Artist Malley Weber who created educational videos for Watershed

Upcoming workshops
Mold Making & Slip-Casting, March 3 – 4, 2022
Sgraffito Technique, March 25, 2022

Long time Teaching Artist and Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Leader, phase 6, Tim Christensen is teaching the Sgraffito Technique workshop. Tim’s thoughts on Watershed:

“Watershed has been so important to my development as an artist and teacher. We’re incredibly fortunate to have this facility here, in Maine. It serves as a gathering and sharing place for all of the acquired knowledge of the American, and to some extent the international, ceramic scene, at the same time as providing world class studio facilities and learning opportunities. If we think of art as a language, and the different techniques and styles available to us as our vocabulary,  working through Watershed allows me to say an entire range of things that I would be otherwise unable to express through my artwork. Having Watershed available to me in Maine means I have the opportunity to say anything I can conceive with clay.”

Winthrop Middle School Art Teacher Lisa Gilman commented after the workshop she attended:

“Watershed nourishes the whole artist. They provide space and time for an artist to grow. They support the artist’s mind, body and soul. Watershed is a rare gem in today’s world. Not once all week did I miss technology or really even think of it. I was able to truly connect and grow as an artist and engage in deep thoughtful art making. Pure magic!” 

Vinalhaven’s K-12 art teacher, Heather White, comment:

“I’ve participated in countless professional development opportunities over the years, and my time spent at Watershed ranks at the very top of the list. The instructor and everyone on the Watershed staff was knowledgeable and encouraging, I got a lot accomplished in a short time, I’m going back to my classroom with new and fresh ideas, everyone I met was fun and friendly, and the food was amazing! Hopefully every art teacher in the state has an opportunity to go at some point!”

Teaching Artist Malley Weber demonstrates to a session with art teachers

AUDIENCE

Watershed’s audience is wide and varied. From artists who have different focus to teachers looking for learning opportunities to communities members who appreciate and wish immerse themselves and support ceramic programming. Some of listed below.

  • Artists who can work independently in a clay studio and come from Maine, around the country, or abroad take part in our residency program. We aim to foster community and connection among practicing artists at all stages of their careers, from students and recent graduates to established professionals looking for an opportunity to connect with other ceramists. Scholarships are available for all populations. For example in 2017 The Zenobia Fund was established for BIPOC artists, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)
  • Artists with some experience in clay who are looking to further their skills and knowledge. Guest artist and kiln firing workshops are available.  
  • Maine K-12 educators and students. The teacher education program prioritizes skill-building and technique-sharing in clay for Maine’s art educators. Teachers know their students best and can tailor what they learn at Watershed to suit their particular needs and interests. The teacher sessions also provide an opportunity for art educators who usually work solo to connect and collaborate. 

Watershed offers some programs for student groups as well. Art classes come to campus to learn about Raku firing. 

  • Ceramic art lovers & appreciators. While the bulk of our programs prioritize hands-on learning for artists, Watershed offers opportunities for the public to learn more about and appreciate ceramic work via exhibitions, artist talks, special events, and Salad Days, our annual fundraiser and celebration of ceramic work. 

PANDEMIC – UPS and DOWNS

In person Watershed programming was on hold during the summer of 2020 due to the pandemic. However, the timeline for the building of the new studio (see more under ‘changes underway’ below) was pushed forward and completed more quickly since the campus was quiet.

New ways for artists to create and connect became a priority and the following are some of the programs developed:

  • Online gatherings for artists around topics that mattered to them. For example a partnership was formed with The Color Network and Ayumi Hori to facilitate online conversations for artists who focused on racial equity, economic parity, and creativity during Covid-19.
  • Kiln firing opportunities for Maine artists during the summer were available since because they’re usually in constant use by artists-in-residence.
  • An outdoor sculpture exhibition called “Outstanding in the Field” (details under “past exhibitions”) supported clay artists and offered the public an opportunity to safely view work outdoors.  
  • A series of video tutorials for K-12 teachers and students (and others), created by teaching artist Malley Weber, on digging wild clay, processing wild clay, and raku firing.

CHANGES UNDERWAY and NEXT STEPS

During the last 20 years or so Watershed has been able to maintain and upgrade some of the facilities on the property. They built and fully insulated artist cabins, built a kiln shed, and updated Thompson Hall to name a few changes.

Phase 1, 2015-17: Included project planning, a feasibility student and conceptual facility designs. From this first phase action has taken place and so many wonderful and much needed changes have occurred.

Phase 2, 2018-19: A beautiful historic building, the Joan Pearson Watkins House is located about a quarter mile down the road from the main campus. Watershed purchased the house and the accompanying 20 acres, which abut the land that leads to the studio. It was renovated and restored and holds Watershed’s Barkan Gallery, which offers year-round exhibition, lecture, and event space. Watershed’s administrative offices and retail shop are also located in the house.

Phase 3, 2020: Studio Annex provides climatized, flexible space for adjunct programming and material and equipment storage.

Phase 4, 2021-21: Windgate Studio is a 7,500 square foot studio, weatherized and ADA-compliant, supporting an expanded residency and workshop season. Features include a state-of-the-art filtration and ventilation system, spacious glaze area, custom spray booth, plaster room, and a single-level floor plan offering a seamless transition between studio and kilns. 

  • Supports artists working on commissions or large scale projects.
  • Brings (inter)nationally-known guest artists to lead workshops.
  • Provides opportunities for student groups to make and fire work.
  • Enables Watershed to collaborate with partner organizations.
  • Offers space for artists to create and connect throughout the year.
  • Tap into limitless potential!
Recently opened Windgate Studio

Phase 5: Campus Commons design and construction2022-2023. The Commons will replace the existing Thompson Hall. The plan includes comfortable dining facilities, a commercial kitchen, and weatherized housing for staff.

SUPPORTING WATERSHED

After reading about Watershed you might be wondering how they’ve been able to accomplish so much. Like anything successful they’ve had a vision, commitment from amazing staff and supportive board of directors and advisors. And, they’ve had donors (small and large contributions) who have contributed generously to the mission and success of Watershed. Their Capital Campaign called ‘Watershed NOW’ is creating spaces that inspire bold artistic practice and community. LEARN MORE.

There are opportunities to support Watershed with donations to the scholarship fund, the capital campaign, and the annual fund. Occasionally, Watershed seeks volunteers for specific events and projects. 

Watershed is well-known in the national ceramics community but has perhaps less name recognition in Maine. As capacity for year-round programming grows, Watershed plans to offer more ways for Mainers to connect. 

Co-founder Lynn Duryea shared her remembrance and thoughts on Watershed:

It really was Peg’s vision that got Watershed going. She was a long-time seasonal resident of the area and an investor in the brick factory. When it ceased to be financially viable, she really wanted to see artists use the space, did a lot of outreach and research to see how that might happen, contacting clay programs as well as individual artists. She knew George and ultimately convinced him to try the pilot program in 1986.
George invited artists he knew and who had been recommended to him. He invited me because I was working on large-scale planters for a Percent for Art installation that couldn’t be executed in my Congress St. Portland studio. He knew Chris and invited him to come with his students at Swain School of Design early in the fall. 
I was still working at Watershed when Chris came with his students. It was conversations that came out of that week that moved us forward. I don’t recall that we were looking too far down the road – as it were. I don’t know that we were thinking we were laying the groundwork for what would become a major institution in our field. We definitely saw the potential of a group of people coming together to work in what was then a very raw space, just to see what might happen collectively and individually. Watershed has always been about community – people working together on an equal footing regardless of their reputation, status, age, etc.
Watershed in its early years was about as grass roots as you could get: a group of artists and a small board of directors figuring it all out.
And it has worked. The growth has been organic, uneven and amazing, particularly amazing in the last decade. Fran (Rudoff, executive director) has worked wonders – along with a very dedicated staff and board. In no way did we envision the specifics of Watershed’s programming today in the fall of 1986, but we knew something significant could happen. And it has, by putting one collective foot in front of the other for all these years, never giving up on the ideas and potential.”

NEXT STEPS

Hopefully you’ve read to the end of this long blog post. And either learned about a new place in Maine or reminisced about your own experience(s) at Watershed. It’s a beautiful gem where thousands have traveled to, learned, and left with a full heart. When I think about the co-founders (in their 30’s at the time) who were brave enough to take a chance, I am reminded of Vincent van Gogh’s words: “What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything…”

I am grateful for the help Watershed’s Outreach & Communication Director, Claire Brassil provided in putting together this blog post. As for the future of Watershed, Claire’s thoughts below:

In the spring, we celebrated the building’s completion and collectively reoriented after such a rapid metamorphosis. The studio can contain any program we dream up. But … how will Watershed’s limitless future take shape? As an organization known for its scrappy rough edges, what will it mean to nurture the best parts of our original identity while making the most of our shiny new vessel? These coming-of-age throes find us wrestling with invigorating yet challenging questions of who we’ve been and who we want to become.

The shape and scope of Watershed’s next chapter will begin to emerge over the coming year. I feel confident that my colleagues, the board, and our greater community share a collective passion for refining and growing this unique place. Watershed is a quantifiable physical space: 54 acres, 7,500 square feet of studio space, 31 dining room chairs, 15 bedrooms, 11 kilns, and one gallery. But in an equally real sense, we are an experience, an idea, and a respite during an era when few places affirm that creative practice and artists matter.”  

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Happpppy New Year!

January 1, 2022

I’m seeing the new light

Here we are at the start of another year – 2022. It feels like it couldn’t possibly be over 20 years when we were turning the century and we experienced the fear of the computer flaw and the Y2K scare. I know that the last year has been absolutely crazy for educators and I am grateful for those of you who continue to dedicate yourselves to teaching and putting students best interest in the center. I’m excited about starting a new year and sharing many arts education and educators stories with you that I’ve been working on during the last month.

Today I’m sharing a short story of my own. On December 13 I attended the winter concert at Camden Hills Regional High School. Many of you know Kim Murphy who teaches music at the school and directs the chorale, treble choir and chamber singers. I was moved to tears when the treble choir sang Where the Light Begins with text by Jan Richardson and music by Susan LaBarr. The piece was originally written for a middle school and the composer was asked to “contemplate the theme of peace”. When I think about peace I imagine teachers putting on their supermen capes each morning to face the challenges of the day. The first few lines of the song Where the Light Begins…

Perhaps it does not begin.

Perhaps it is always.

Perhaps it takes a lifetime to open our eyes,

to learn to see what has forever shimmered in front of us

If you google the title you can find the rest of the words and hear the song and perhaps you’ll be moved by the piece as well.

A few days later on December 21, I invited our neighbors for a Winter Solstice gathering. Some of you know that I’ve lived on a gravel, dead end road with 6 other homes in a small Maine town for over 20 years. Over the years we’ve gotten to know our neighbors through chatting while walking on the road, welcoming new folks with a loaf of bread and exchanging cookies during the holidays. Most importantly, we wave as cars pass by. We recognize people from the cars they drive. In all these years we’ve never had a gathering of all the neighbors. Two things prompted the invitation; one was the isolation of Covid, the second reason was because one neighbor passed away in August. I am reminded, now more than ever because of Covid, how important it is to reach out to others. Our outside gathering included a chance to look at the stars, stand around the fire pit, share and exchange cookies and refreshments. And, my favorite part … we each lit a candle (children and adults) and listened to a poem called The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper. And, on the shortest day of the year, we all felt a new connection.

Today on Facebook, a former student (whose mother I also taught), had listed some favorite moments of 2021. It was a very sweet post that had beautiful photos accompanying the moments. She lives on a farm and raising her own food including vegetables, chicken and rabbits. My favorite was a picture with 6 shelves of canned foods, and baskets and crates stacked and filled with different squash. She won’t go hungry and she has plenty to share!

Her post helped me pause and give thought to some of my favorite moments this year. One is – drinking my favorite tea, quince, sent to me by my Danish sister (that I can’t find in the US). I enjoy a cup of tea while listening to Poem-a-day which comes by email from the Academy of American Poets. (If interested, sign up at https://poets.org). I’ll finish this post with today’s poem called The New Year by Carrie Williams Clifford. My wish for you for 2022 is to remember to put on your Superman cape each day and have a safe and happy new year!

The New Year comes—fling wide, fling wide the door
Of Opportunity! the spirit free
To scale the utmost heights of hopes to be,
To rest on peaks ne’er reached by man before!
The boundless infinite let us explore,
To search out undiscovered mystery,
Undreamed of in our poor philosophy!
The bounty of the gods upon us pour!
Nay, in the New Year we shall be as gods:
No longer apish puppets or dull clods
Of clay; but poised, empowered to command,
Upon the Etna of New Worlds we’ll stand—
This scant earth-raiment to the winds will cast—
Full richly robed as supermen at last!

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Sooooo Grateful!

November 25, 2021

Maine Arts Education Blog is Back!

I can’t think of a better day for the blog to return than Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving to each of you! Even though the blog has been “away”, not a day as gone by when I haven’t thought about my faithful readers. I am thrilled to be blogging again!

APPRECIATING YOU

Now more than ever I am grateful for the work you do for, and with arts education. I know the blog readers represent a wide variety of people – all of you with a connection to arts education! You’re in small and large communities in Maine, cities and rural areas across the United States, and in countries around the world. Thanksgiving Day in the US gives us a chance to pause and give thanks. Now in 2021 it is more important than ever that we practice gratitude. Scheduling saxophone playing time, painting the same group of flowers, mindful breathing, or whatever activity you take for yourself all take practice time. During the last 6 months I’ve had the chance to pause and consider what’s important to me and engage in the art making process as no other time in my life. Along with practicing my art I’ve been practicing gratitude. Through this practice I am more joyful. I hope each of you can find the time on Thanksgiving to reflect on what you’re grateful for and what brings you joy! Please know I am soooooo very grateful for you!

My workspace

BLOG HISTORY

I’m sure some of you are wondering – how did we get here? The Maine Arts Education blog was established in the winter of 2009, while I was working at the Maine Department of Education as the Visual and Performing Arts Specialist. I worked there from 2006 until 2013 (after 30 years as an art teacher). It was David Patterson who suggested I establish the blog. I only wish he was still alive to see how his seed germinated. My initial purpose was to help build a state-wide arts education community which I found (while a teacher in the classroom) was desperately needed. Not an organization that represented the arts disciplines separately but collectively – dance, music, theatre, visual arts and later in my thinking poetry and writing. In 2013 I moved across the street and down the hill to the Maine Arts Commission (MAC), taking the blog with me, and served as the Director of Arts Education until June 2019. My View of the State House Dome continued, just from a different angle. In the fall of 2019 the MAC contracted with me to continue the blog. Three contracts later it was time for change soooooo with some communications with the Commission I am now the owner of the blog. During the years I was blogging while working for the state I posted 4,460 times. (That number still blows me away.) For the last almost 13 years the blog has been titled meartsed (Maine Arts Education) news from Argy with a view of the State House dome. For several years that was daily and I loved it! I’m so excited that the Maine Arts Education blog will continue, no longer, with my view of the State House Dome but with my view from my home across a beautiful field as you can see at the top of the blog. Many of the 4,460 posts were your stories – arts educators, teaching artists, students, schools, arts advocates, arts organizations, and others who are committed to excellent arts education for all. Blogging provided me with the opportunity to celebrate you and your daily work (and play) and I was proud to do so. Your stories are humbling! In addition to your stories I provided research, professional development information, articles, book reviews, events, announcements, interviews, pertinent arts education information, the places I traveled for educational opportunities and all types of other information. For the foreseeable future they will remain for your access and are archived below this one. If you want to search by topic I have tagged all of the posts. You can scroll down on the right side of the blog to the ‘search archives’ box and type in a name or topic and find what you’re looking for. For example, if you’re interested in reading about the teacher leaders (from the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative MAAI/Maine Arts Leadership Initiative MALI) you can type in teacher leaders and their stories will populate the front page. Or you could type in a specific teacher leader’s name and all the posts with that person included will populate the front page. (Try Rob Westerberg, Kate Smith, Catherine Ring, or Jeff Beaudry and you’ll see what I mean).

NEXT STEPS

Moving forward the blog will contain primarily stories – your stories. I will not be posting every day and when I do post the posts will be in depth. Next week the first story will be posted about the amazing and unique glass studio and the people involved in it happening in Belfast. I know that the pandemic has shifted teacher’s ideas about teaching. I know that you face challenges and joyful moments that are different than pre-pandemic. I want to hear your stories so I can blog about them so others can learn about your work (and play). And, so all of us, your colleagues, can celebrate you! Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me, Argy Nestor, with your story or suggestions for the blog at meartsed@gmail.com.

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Cultural Alliance of Maine

June 30, 2021

Born during the pandemic

I’ve been reflecting on the many silver linings of the pandemic lately – not to look back and feel sad but to look forward and encouraged. Collectively there are so many and ones that we can learn from to help form our future work and play.

The Cultural Alliance of Maine (CAM) pilot project was established during the pandemic which starkly illuminated that Maine lacks structures to enable the cultural sector to learn, organize, and act as a unified statewide community .

Leaders from across the state, representing diverse nonprofit cultural organizations, came together to establish this alliance to:

  • explore models to address infrastructure gaps long-term
  • advocate for solutions to the unique challenges facing the sector now, and 
  • create pathways for ongoing peer-to-peer learning and information exchange. 

With generous support from The Onion Foundation, Morton-Kelly Charitable Trust, Virginia  Hodgkins Somers Foundation, and Libra Foundation, CAM hired Carla Pugliese as the Pilot Project Director to lead the work of convening stakeholders, assessing needs, researching comparable sector-wide alliances, building bridges with state government and other sectors, and determining next steps following the pilot project period.

CAM represents their members’ interests. Carla said: “We are collectivizing the cultural voice so there is more power at the State House, at the federal level and at the local level for the cultural sector. The pandemic shed light on the need for this type of organization but Carla also said: “the Cultural Alliance of Maine “is not a pandemic response. It is about building something that is useful and valuable and rich for many, many years going forward.”

Arts organizations are represented in CAM but also included are historical societies, libraries, and both for-profit and nonprofit entities such as galleries, theaters and museums, as well as individual artists and makers. “The attempt to bring together such an encompassing umbrella organization is a first”, Carla said.

To learn more CLICK HERE and read Carla’s letter to the cultural sector which provides the plan for the pilot.

To sign up for the monthly newsletter to hear ongoing news CLICK HERE.

Carla Pugliese, Cultural Alliance of Maine Director

Steering Committee

  • Mark Bessire, Portland Museum of Art
  • Steve Bromage, Maine Historical Society
  • Shoni Currier, Bates Dance Festival
  • Ben Fowlie, Points North Institute & Camden International Film Festival
  • Hugh French, Tides Institute
  • David Greenham, Maine Arts Commission
  • Sarah Hansen, Greater Portland Landmarks
  • Stuart Kestenbaum, Maine State Poet Laureate & Monson Arts
  • Monica Kelly,  Bay Chamber Concerts
  • Nat May, Onion Foundation
  • Daniel Minter, Indigo Arts Alliance
  • Linda Nelson, Portland Ovations
  • Chris Newell, Abbe Museum
  • Bari Newport, Penobscot Theatre Company
  • James Ritter, Maine State Library
  • Abbe Levin, Maine Office of Tourism – Contractor
  • Molly O’Connell, Maine Association of Nonprofits – Liaison
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Jazz All-State

June 24, 2021

Performance

This is a letter from Sandra Barry, President of the Maine Music Educators Association (MMEA) sharing the recording from the Maine All State Jazz Choir singing Just the Two of Us.

Dear Jazz All-State Musicians, Parents, Educators and Guests;


The Maine Music Educators Association is thrilled to present the 2020-21 Jazz All-State Festival! This performance represents a great opportunity for some of Maine’s finest high school jazz musicians to come together as ensembles and work with highly regarded jazz educators and musicians from across the United States. 

In this year of all years, the vital importance of music in our lives could not be more obvious. Great performances and favorite pieces buoy our spirits, inspire, and soothe us. Before the wonderful performances come the work. The hours of practice, preparation and effort from each individual is an accomplishment unto itself, but goes largely unseen and unheard. To our musicians and the people who support them, we thank you. We know the work is challenging, and the time and self-discipline to prepare is difficult to find. This year, you also faced isolation, technical hurdles and perhaps limited access to your teachers and peers. You did it anyway. You are a unique group of musicians who can be proud of the inclusion you earned in Maine Jazz All-State 2021. 

Planning for this yearly event begins as the final notes sound at the concert, led by Jazz Vice President Matt Waite of Millinocket. Matt’s vision, attention to detail and thorough planning has set the stage for an outstanding student (and teacher!) experience. We are so appreciative, Matt!  Special recognition goes to Instrumental Jazz Chair Becky Mallory and Managers Kyle Smith, Honors Jazz Band, Michelle Snow, SATB Jazz Choir, Pat Michaud, Jazz Combo and Mike Sakash, Jazz Band.

Before the actual festival, students prepare audition materials. An audition is like no other experience, and this year students and teachers alike had to shift to an online format. Brian Hutchinson, Auditions Chair and retired music educator from Winslow, worked all summer on behalf of MMEA to learn and modify an entirely new platform. Brian’s persistence, technical ability and background as a music educator resulted in an opportunity for over 1,000 students to  audition for state and district events this year. Brian also assembled and supported the adjudicators who heard each audition. This would not have been possible without you, Brian!  

Normally, the festival host would have put in countless hours of effort. This year our host was the internet, corralled and controlled by Webmaster Adam Metzler of Mars Hill. Adam ensured that we had Zoom Rooms galore, and provided great technical advice and expertise. Thank you, Adam!    
At every step of the way, assisting us all is MMEA Executive Director Beth LaBrie. Whether it be ordering music, delivering T-shirts or answering the endless questions, Beth guides MMEA  in all manner of details, big and small. Kudos Beth!

This festival exists because of the need to create, perform and experience music. Join me in thanking Maine’s music educators for their efforts to inspire, instruct and guide our students, culminating in this event we witness today.  Their work in these unprecedented times is nothing short of heroic. 

Finally, we thank you–parents, guardians, family, friends and community members. Your support of these musicians is a crucial factor in their success. Continue to support music education for all in any way you can. Our children need and deserve robust and exemplary music programs and opportunities throughout the state of Maine.   

Sincerely, 
Sandy

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How We See Now

June 23, 2021

Brunswick High School Exhibit

How We See Now, New Dimensions of Photography is an exhibit of works by Brunswick High School photography students hosted by Brunswick Public Art and Merrymeeting Plaza. The work seeks to question how photography can be used to visualize new realities. Students worked with the Portland artist Justin Levesque, One Dynamic System, in a virtual visiting artist residency sponsored by a grant from the Maine Department of Education with support from the Maine Arts Commission. Deconstructed and reconstructed photographic images allowed students to question our perception of reality. Photographs become manipulated into new imagery utilizing digital tools such as Googles Poly and Photopea. Come drive by this window exhibit in Brunswick at 147 Bath Road next to Peppers Landing. The work will be on exhibit from June through August.

 

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APPLY now!

June 21, 2021

Deadline tomorrow for MAEPL

Curious about the Maine Arts Commission (MAC) program, Maine Arts Education Partners in Leadership (MAEPL)? Wonder why you should consider applying? Listen to arts educator and veteran MAEPL Teacher Leader Charlie Johnson at THIS LINK explain his reasons and the benefits that he’s experienced during his ten years of participation!

DEADLINE TO APPLY IS TOMORROW, JUNE 22, 2021! DON’T DELAY!

DETAILS – THIS LINK

APPLICATION – THIS LINK

DOWNLOAD THE BROCHURE that contains all the information you need!

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