Archive for the ‘Community’ Category

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MAEA Conference

May 20, 2022

Professional Development at it’s Finest

RSU #40 Art teachers Brooke Holland and Anthony Lufkin have been busy planning the annual Maine Art Education Association Fall Conference at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts and Monson Arts. This is the first conference being held at Haystack since September 2019, hence the theme. The conference is scheduled for September 16-18, at both Haystack and Monson locations. Registration opens on June 1 and you can prepare by reviewing the workshops that are being offered and the conference details. The cost is $295.00 (for MAEA members) and includes workshop, room, and delicious food. Some workshops have an additional materials fee. Registration opens June 1st so get ready! Studio descriptions are on the MAEA website now and are looking for volunteers to be studio assistants. If you are interested in being an assistant please respond to this google form. Assistants will be assigned on a first come first serve basis and will receive priority registration.  

Workshop Sessions at Haystack

  • Carved Alabaster – Anne Alexander
  • Relief Printing: Playing with Layers – Holly Berry
  • Mixed Metals – Maggi Blue
  • Ceramics, Form & Surface – Carolyn Brown
  • Large-Scaler Prints – Alexis Iammarino
  • Digital Fabrication – James Rutter
  • Tapestry Weaving – Bobbie Tilkens-Fisher
  • Pewter Casting – Simon ‘Siem’ van der Ven

Workshop Sessions at Monson​

  • Ceramics, Wheel-Throwing – Jemma Gascoine ​ 
  • ​Wood Engraving – Lisa Pixley

The descriptions, material lists, and facilitator biography’s for all the workshops are on the MAEA website.

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Spring Choral Concert

May 12, 2022

Camden Hills Regional High School

The Camden Hills Regional HS Chorale, Chamber Singers and Treble Choir will present their Spring Choral Concert on Tuesday, May 17th at 7:00 PM in the Strom auditorium. The ensembles, directed by Kimberly Murphy and accompanied by Matthew Mainster will perform a variety of selections, featuring many soloists and guest artists.

Kim Murphy

Of special note will be BSO percussionist Nancy Rowe accompanying the Treble Choir on xylophone in their performance of Mark Patterson’s “Edges of the Night” – a song that highlights the plight of refugees. Ms. Rowe will also play the djembe to accompany two selections by the Chorale and Chamber Singers. A guest string quartet: Sarah Glenn (violin), Heidi Karod (violin), Linda Vaillancourt (viola) and April Reed-Cox (cello) will accompany the Chamber Singers’ performance of “Deep Peace” written by Elaine Hagenberg and Ola Gjeilo’s “The Ground.” Both selections incorporate the theme of peace, with Ola Gjeilo’s composition ending with the lyrics “Dona Nobis Pacem” (grant us peace).

Nancy Rowe

Additional themes concurrent in many of the selections are that of youth, and hope through music. Young singers in grades 3 – 8 will join the high school Chorale in a stirring rendition of “Rise Up” – a song made popular by Andra Day.  The performance will feature many soloists including Sara Ackley, Alyssa Lewis, Lenigha White, Noelle Delano and young singers Rowan McWilliams and Nathan Gomez. The string quartet will return to accompany the Treble Choir in a selection which highlights the beauty and hope of music in “Alway Something Sings.” With text by Ralph Waldo Emerson and music by Dan Forrest, this selection also highlights guest singer, Lydia Day. The theme of hope for our youth continues with the Kyle Pederson composition of “Remember the Children.” This song will feature four soloists: Audrey Leavitt, Aly Shook, Lucas Marriner-Ward and Daniel McGregor.

Seniors Audrey Leavitt and Aly Shook will return to the stage as they lead the student a cappella ensemble: Fortissima in three selections. This extra-curricular student-led ensemble has been rejuvenated under their direction and is flourishing in dedication and musicality. Of special note will be a Fortissima performance of Tom Petty’s “Wildflowers,” arranged by Junior, Grace Yanz.

Throughout the evening many soloists will be featured, including Joshua Kohlstrom, Iselin Bratz, Nora Finck, Abigail Kohlstrom, Trey Freeman, Grace Yanz, Jocelyn Serrie, Charlotte Thackeray, Charlotte Nelson, Sophie Ryan, George Bickham, Maren Kinney, Alyssa Bland, Isabella Kinney and flautist Cabot Adams.

During this joyful concert student achievements in the MMEA District III and All State music festivals will be recognized, along with a tribute to our outstanding senior musicians. The concert is free to the public. As of this writing, masks, for both performers and audience members, are optional. For more information, contact director Kimberly Murphy at kim.murphy@fivetowns.net  See you at the show!

I’m certain this is going to be a spectacular concert since Kim is retiring at the end of this school year.

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World Collage Day

April 26, 2022

Plan to participate – May 14

World Collage Day is an international celebration of the fine art of collage being recognized this year on on Saturday, May 14th, 2022! Celebrate with enthusiasts around the globe. If you google ‘world collage day’ you can see what some others are doing to recognize the day. And right here in Maine, the Bangor Public Library has put a call out for collages that will be included in a display at the library. The details are below with hopes of having your students participate or, if the library is not a convenient location for your students, create something similar and get some energy going around World Collage Day! This is a great way to celebrate spring and to help turn the corner from the pandemic. Using the theme “Hopeful” because we know that there are many reasons to focus on what gives us hope.

Bangor Public Library Plans – your invited or use this idea to adapt for your community!

Join in the fun and make a collage to be on display at the Bangor Public Library!

You are invited to submit a collage if you are preK-grade 12 students. 

Collages must be no larger than 9”x12” and must be made of paper (no 3-D objects). You can use magazines, colored paper, newspaper, paper bags, tissue paper, wrapping paper, etc. and mount your collage on thin cardboard (cereal box thickness is sturdy enough to use for the backing of the collage). 

Created by Kal Elmore

What is a collage? 

Usually a collage is an art work made up of photos, clippings, or found items that are attached to a sturdy surface. An example is a picture of a tree made up of pictures of things that are green. You can search on the internet for many interesting examples of collage, if you would like to get ideas. 

The theme is ‘Hopeful

There are many reasons why this is a good time to focus on the things that give us hope. Brainstorm some ideas with a friend or family member and think about these ideas as you make your collage. 

Collages are mostly made up of scraps of paper so you can also think of this as a recycle/reuse project. (Do not use special pictures or papers without permission).

All you will need is some paper scraps, some glue, scissors (if you need to cut things), and your imagination! 

If you don’t have scrap materials at home you can go to the Bangor Public Library Children’s room and pick up a paper bag with paper scraps inside. You still need your own glue and backing material and scissors. These bags will be available at the library from May 2 – May 12, during library hours. 

Submit collages

Your finished collage needs to be submitted to the Children’s Room in the Bangor library on May 12-14, during library hours. (There will be a box for submissions.) 

Before submitting your collage you might want to take a picture of it or a picture of you and your collage. The library is not responsible for lost or damaged work, and sometimes things happen. If you want your collage, back you need to pick it up at the library on May 31 during library hours. 

If you want, you can post the picture of you and your collage on Instagram with the hashtag #meworldcollageday2022.

On the back of your collage please put your name, the title of your work, and a parent or guardian signature that shows you have their permission to submit the work. 

If you have any questions, please contact one of the librarians or Candis Joyce, Reference Department, Adult Program Coordinator, Bangor Public Library, 145 Harlow Street, Bangor, ME 04401, (207) 947-8336 ext. 127, (207) 922-6054 direct.

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Penny’s Story

April 19, 2022

MLTI t-shirt design

This story starts with the design that was selected for the Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI) conference t-shirt. But, it’s about much more than that. It’s about a 7th grader who LOVES the arts. Congratulations to Penny Graham who attends Waterville Jr. High School. Her art work, seen below, was selected to be printed on t-shirts that will be worn by Maine middle schoolers and their teachers while they attend the virtual student conference being held, May 26. Registration is open for the MLTI Virtual Conference and all grade 7 and 8 Maine students are invited to participate.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Penny recently about her design that connects with this years conference theme: Space2Connect. Before getting to the creating part Penny looked at t-shirts from past years which helped to guide her decisions. She wanted it simple so she considered ideas with space, specifically planets. She decided on one color so it could be seen and read easily. She tried different colors including pink and green but kept coming back to purple. She’s been using the digital app Procreate on her iPad for about a year so it made sense to use it for designing the t-shirt idea. In fact, she has created a video that demonstrates her knowledge and how she went about accomplishing her design. Video about using the app Procreate. Penny’s video will be included on an upcoming episode of the MLTI SLAM Show, which focuses on student leadership in technology integration. 

Penny drawing

After being on the phone with Penny for about 45 minutes I realized that I was not only speaking to a t-shirt designer by an incredible arts advocate. “The Arts are important to me. My whole life I’ve always loved doing music and art because they’re my passions. I’ve done art clubs, I draw a lot, I played a little saxophone, guitar, and the recorder. This year I can see myself improving.”

In addition Penny loves to write, narratives and some poetry. She’ll often learn something while writing in school and goes home and practices what she’s learned. She’s had several different learning opportunities in the arts. “I love doing art with materials and using my hands and getting dirty. It is such fun.” She enjoys pen and ink, sketching, water color, rock painting and pottery. Penny also loves creating with digital tools because “I can change the design quickly and the process goes much smoother.

The arts rotate through the schedule for students at Waterville Jr. High and as a 7th grader she doesn’t have visual art but she does have music. She selected the violin which she played when she was younger and is happy to return to it. She enjoys playing in the school orchestra and likes the performances.  

She also loves theatre and has participated in the Sound of Music and Nobody Believes in Fairies which was written by one of the school’s 6th English teachers. She’s excited about the musical coming up this spring called Middleschool Madness. Penny says: “Theater is a really nice bonding experience. It’s a fun, social thing that I just love to do. I got to meet so many new people in the two plays I’ve been inMy theater experiences have all been really great.” 

Penny as Gretl

Penny also shared her experience of the pandemic. She was glad to have alone time to draw and bake and was able to pursue her hobbies. “I feel like without the pandemic I wouldn’t have been able to move forward that much. I feel like I could take big strokes that I wouldn’t have had time to do.”

Penny’s dad shared: “Waterville is a wonderful place for artistic and curious children like Penny.”

I’m certain that Penny has a bright future and I’m grateful to have met her and for our conversation.

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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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Insect Lab

March 22, 2022

Learning opportunity for teachers

Below is an invitation from Maine artist Mike Libby! Mike is a graduate of Bangor High School and is an amazing artist who established INSECT LAB. Now, he’s sharing his ideas with teachers. I encourage you to respond to Mike and join him on zoom during one or all of the sessions. What a super opportunity to consider how Insect Lab could be part of a lesson or perhaps your school curriculum.

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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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We’ve Lost a Giant

February 6, 2022

Touched so many

Sadly, we lost a giant in the arts on Friday, February 4. Ashley Bryan was 98 years old and lived everyday joyfully! His face in the photo below is how I will remember this amazing artist, advocate, storyteller, poet, and humanitarian.

Just a couple of weeks ago I read an interesting story in the Maine Sunday Telegram about a family in Virginia who purchased a home where their great grandparents lived as slaves on a plantation. I thought of Ashley Bryan and his book, Freedom Over Me. I cut the article out of the paper and sent it to him. As Ashley has done in so many books it is a beautiful collection of words and pictures. On the mainland near Ashley’s home on Little Cranberry Island he heard there was to be an auction that included paperwork from a plantation where slaves were held. Interestingly enough, the paperwork was from an auction that was selling 11 slaves. The paperwork described only the necessary items to buy and sell slaves; name, age, height, price, and little else. Ashley imagined much more about these individuals and gave them lives; describing their skills, their hopes and dreams, in poetry and images. Each are alive for the reader on the pages of the book.

Freedom Over Me is one of over 50 books that Ashley has written and illustrated. For years his children’s books have been steady and gently forceful educating on issues of color and racial diversity. He has used song, poetry, spirituals, folktales and much more to share Black culture. He received awards and recognition for many of his books including including two Coretta Scott King awards and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award. He found joy in telling his stories with people of all ages through singing, tapping and moving. Ashley’s presentations started with a Langston Hughes poem My People. The youtube video below will help you understand why Ashley shared this poem and you’ll hear him reciting.

My People

The night is beautiful,
So the faces of my people.

The stars are beautiful,
So the eyes of my people.

Beautiful, also, is the sun.
Beautiful, also, are the souls of my people.

In 2013 the Ashley Bryan Center was created to  to “preserve, celebrate and share broadly artist Ashley Bryan’s work and his joy of discovery, invention, learning and community. The Ashley Bryan Center will promote opportunities for people to come together in the creation and appreciation of visual art, literature, music, and the oral and written traditions of poetry. The Center is fiercely committed to fostering cultural understanding and personal pride through scholarship, exhibitions and opportunities in the Arts.” The center has been doing impactful work since its inception. One component is the distribution of Ashley’s book Beautiful Blackbird. Each year copies are given to schools, libraries, and organizations serving underserved children. To date, over 20,000 books have been distributed in Maine, New York City, Atlanta, and Philadelphia.

I was fortunate in August of 2018 to travel with Central Elementary music teacher Kate Smith to Islesford to meet and visit with Ashley in his home. We were touched by his energy, joy and childlike view of the world. What a gift! We visited the Storytelling Pavilion where we viewed his amazing puppets and stained glass windows. Yesterday I shared the sad news of Ashley’s passing with friend and colleague, Catherine Ring. We agreed that there are some people that should live forever, they enrich every life they touch and make the world a better place. Ashley was one of those people, and fortunately as he reminds us in the video (linked above), that what we create will last. The art he created during his 98 years on this earth will last and there’s no doubt in my mind that it will continue to impact people of all ages in a positive and thoughtful way. At some level his message lives on in each of us touched by Ashley and his work (and play) so he’s not really gone.

If you ‘d like to learn more about Ashley visit the Ashley Bryan Center website. To contribute and to learn what a donation could support visit the donate page on the center’s website.

Earlier blog posts on “Argy’s Point of View” blog are linked below. They are filled with photos, ideas, resources, links, and so much more. One of my favorites is the story of a former student, Aaron Robinson, who collaborated with Ashley to write an African-American requiem for chamber orchestra, choir and spoken voice called A Tender Bridge.

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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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