Archive for the ‘Opportunity’ Category

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Office of the Secretary of State

February 28, 2021

Shenna Bellows

Many people believe that we shouldn’t dedicate one day or one month to something as important as Black History. That may be true but I also note that there are a lot of educators and organizations that take the time to recognize, learn and celebrate the history of black people during February each year. The month sheds light on the importance of what black people have done throughout history. The events of the past year have moved us to a different place and hopefully we are making progress in learning, understanding, and truth and will continue to do so every month. I’m not in the position to measure and nor is it our jobs as educators to do so but it is our responsibility to recognize where we are and incorporate an understanding into our curricula.

Painting of Frederick Douglass by Rob Shetterly, Americans Who Tell the Truth

Shenna Bellows was elected in December by the Maine Legislature to be the 50th Secretary of State. Shenna is the first woman to hold the position and she brings to it a wealth of experience and understanding. Earlier in February Shenna was the guest on a webinar sponsored by Midcoast Women. They provide opportunities for women in the midcoast to find and strengthen their individual and collective voices. Shenna said that when she was a young girl she started carrying a copy of the US Constitution in her pocket, she was so enthralled with it.

Shenna contacted Maine painter Rob Shetterly and invited him to display some of his Amercans Who Tell the Truth AWTT paintings in her Augusta office in recognition of Black History Month. If you’re not familiar with Rob’s paintings he has created over 250 paintings of Americans who are “Truth Tellers”. The portraits and narratives highlight citizens who courageously address issues of social, environmental, and economic fairness. AWTT offers resources to inspire a new generation of engaged Americans who will act for the common good, our communities, and the Earth.

Painting of John Lewis by Rob Shetterly, Americans to Tell the Truth

Message from Rob

The exhibit in the Office of the Secretary of State is about the people and the art and the history of the United States. The intent of the portraits is several fold: by painting historical figures as vividly as I would a contemporary person, I’m trying to convey that each one is in a sense as alive right now as they were in their era. The issues of racism and  Constitutional values are still urgent, what they had to say is as relevant now as it was then. And the importance of a good portrait is that it can honor the person as  words sometimes fail to do. Partly that’s because of the time necessary, the commitment, to create a living person. That is, if I say the name Frederick Douglass to you it elicits a different response than if I show you a portrait which conveys his character and courage. I think this year because of Black Live Matter and Covid, we are realizing how deeply entwined racism is in our history and culture. The portraits are of people who need now as much as ever to be our teachers. It’s important to choose teachers who tell us the most truth. The office of the Secretary of State are where laws are meant to be enforced equitably. The portraits acknowledge the struggle of the past and the present to rout out racist law.

Painting of Frances Perkins by Rob Shetterly, Americans Who Tell the Truth

Shenna has the portraits of Frederick Douglass, John Lewis, Frances Perkins and Sojourner Truth in her office. You might be wondering why Shenna wanted these paintings in her office. Shenna was kind enough to share her reasons along with answering several questions that provide the Maine Arts Education blog readers Shenna’s thoughts on ‘truth tellers’ and the messages that the paintings portray.

What inspired you to want to hang AWTT portraits in your  office?

When I served in the Maine Senate, I sat at a desk with a portrait of President Lincoln behind  me. That portrait inspired my work in the Maine Senate, but I was also mindful that in the Legislature, we were surrounded by portraits of white men, and I thought that sent the wrong message about who can lead, especially to children who came to tour the State House. When  it came time to decorate the office of Secretary of State, I wanted portraits of those great heroes who have shaped social justice and especially voting rights. As the first female Secretary of State, I wanted to be sure women were included.

What message do you want to communicate with the AWTT paintings in your office?

The Office of Secretary of State is committed to racial and social justice, and we’re taking the lessons learned from some of the great heroes of civil rights to carry their work forward. I also want to send a message that some of the greatest heroes in advancing justice in our country have been women and African Americans.

Painting of Sojourner Truth by Rob Shetterly, Americans Who Tell the Truth

Why did you choose the ones she did? Are there any personal stories that connect you specifically to these portraits?

The portraits I chose are my some of my own heroes. When I was a kid growing up in Hancock, I had a copy of the Bill of Rights on my bedroom wall. I was committed to the ideals laid out in that document, but it’s taken me a lifetime to continue to learn some of our country’s hard history. In 2003, I went to work for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in Washington, DC, and I was assigned to work on building a national campaign to engage activists in calling for reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act.  That was the beginning of my professional work to advance voting rights, and it also marked the beginning of my deeper learning and inquiry into the work of heroes like Hon. John Lewis, Frederick Douglas and Sojourner Truth. In 2009, when I was at the ACLU of Maine where I was Executive Director, the Frances Perkins Center gave me an award as a future woman leader. I received a glass hat modeled in the shape of the one Frances Perkins wore and a copy of her biography. Her work inspired me when I went on to chair the Labor and Housing Committee in the Legislature.

What inspires you to take action?

My parents inspired me first. We were poor. I grew up without electricity or running water until the fifth grade. But my mom ran for the planning board to save a bald eagle’s nest and won. My dad protested the nuclear arms race and helped create our town’s recycling center. My parents demonstrated the importance of acting upon one’s values to make a difference. People who choose justice and truth sometimes at great personal cost inspire me to act.

What gives you  courage?

Love and friendship give me courage. When I’m embarking on something that is very difficult, I look to the people I love and respect and the hard choices they have sometimes made to advance justice, and that gives me courage.

If you were to choose a “truth-teller” for an AWTT portrait, who would it be?

Chief Clarissa Sabattis, Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians. I met her through the Holocaust and Human Rights Center where we collaborated on a project to lift up Maine’s black and brown heroes. I then watched her present to the Maine State Legislature on amendments to the Indian Land Claims Settlement Act. She is an amazing leader.

How does being Maine’s Secretary of State enable you to advance the cause of justice?

The Maine Secretary of State oversees Maine State Archives, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and the Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions. With Maine State Archives, we can lift up the history of traditionally marginalized communities and restore access to archival documents to Maine’s Wabanaki tribes. With the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, we can reform the laws surrounding license suspension to ensure we’re not criminalizing poverty. We can also advance credentialing and licensing at the BMV to ensure equal access, especially for immigrant and refugee communities, people experiencing homelessness and other vulnerable communities. At the Division of Elections, we can work to reform our voting laws to make voting as convenient, accessible and secure as possible for all Mainers. At every level of the Department, as Secretary of State, I can promote representation in hiring and appointments and inclusion and equity in our policies and service to the public.

This is one of two blog posts about the AWTT paintings on display at this time in the Capitol Complex.

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Ya Gotta See This

February 26, 2021

Natasha Mayers Story

Over the last four years filmmakers Anita Clearfield and Geoffrey Leighton captured the story of Whitefield artist Natasha Mayers beautifully. Last evening almost 150 people, from all over Maine and way beyond, gathered online for the premiere of Natasha Mayers: an Un-Still Life. After viewing the 34 minute film folks joined Natasha, Anita and Geoffrey on zoom for the opportunity to celebrate and ask questions with the three of them! The film is delightful and so was the gathering! Kudos to all involved in organizing the happening.

It is always fun to see who participates in online events and especially wonderful to see among the attendees a few old friends – Nancy Salmon, Corliss Chastain, Christine Higgins, Elizabeth Watson, Deb Fahy, Rob Shetterly, and Catherine Ring. Educational and community tools are being developed to accompany the film by Kal Elmore, Nancy Harris Frohlich, Catherine Ring and myself. Natasha Mayers and Rob Shetterly will be providing the keynote at the spring Maine Art Education Association conference on April 3. More information will be provided in the future about this annual event, this year being held online.

CHAT BOX COMMENTS

Below are just some of the comments from the Zoom chat box. They provide an idea of how much participants enjoyed and appreciated the work that Anita and Geoffrey did, how well Natasha’s story is captured and how important her story is to the state of Maine.

  • Wicked awesome! Natasha and filmmakers fantastic job for a Maine Artist Icon!
  • Natasha, Geoff and Anita well done on all levels! There were so many great parts to think about. Loved the idea of incorporating war symbols with Maine symbols. Was moved by the story and the art around the buoys. The filmmaking was outstanding!
  • Great Film! Natasha you’re  inspiring. You have such great way of encouraging non-artists, I enjoyed seeing that. Important work!
  • Natasha, you are so beautiful and bring joy and pride to your Whitefield peeps!  Kudos to the filmmakers for the insights, the humor and fantastic graphics!
  • The amazing thing to me was how many more examples of Natasha’s work could have been included. It must have been very challenging to decide what to leave out.
  • I am so happy to be here and to have seen this amazing film about you!  I love it, I love you! Keep the faith and we will meet one of these days.
  • That was a beautiful film all! You are amazing Natasha! I loved all your work and sharing art with so many.
  • Bravo Natasha! Your work is an accessible voice of love and passion!
  • The visual effects are incredible…how did you do them? Too big a question, I know…but Bravo…perfect for the subject and artiste extraordinaire! The film work beautifully matched Natasha’s amazing work! 
  • Bravo for one of the most joyful films I’ve seen about one of the greatest most fun activist artists I’ve ever had the  pleasure to know. Great going Geoff and Anita!!
  • Courage Forward – you are it, Natasha.

Humor. Anger. Love. Outrage. Grief. Hear Natasha’s inspirational call to activism! The good news is that if you weren’t able to attend the premiere last evening you can access it at THIS LINK on Vimeo for FREE until Sunday evening. This film is so honest, thought provoking, creative, and humorous! It provides so much food for thought and it lands at just the right moment when we’re trying to make sense of the world. After March 25 the film will be available once again at no cost. I encourage you to make some popcorn tonight after your week at school, curl up on the couch, watch the film, and consider how you might use this in your classroom.

Now, more than ever, people want to see truthful, creative role models like Natasha Mayers, who Maine Senator George Mitchell called a “state treasure.” Natasha Mayers: an Un-Still Life presents an artist who has remained true to her passion for over 50 years, following Natasha as she takes on social, economic, and environmental justice issues with humor, irreverence, and a keen aesthetic that enlightens while it entertains. Using a non-traditional approach, the film’s animation and special effects reflect Mayers’ own art-style.

I’ll provide updates in future blog posts about the ongoing opportunities that will take place across the state. If you’re interested in learning more please email me at meartsed@gmail.com.

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Youth Art Month

February 23, 2021

Portland Museum of Art Exhibit

Sign up today. Registration closes February 24

Virtual exhibition opens March 1, 2021There are just two days left to register for Youth Art Month 2021. Youth Art Month emphasizes the value of art education and encourages support for quality school art programs through a month-long exhibition of artwork by K-12 students throughout the state. To register your students, please review all the information on our website and contact Meghan Quigley Graham, Learning and Teaching Specialist, with any additional questions. All artists and their families are invited to the Youth Art Month digital celebration on Saturday, March 13. 

REGISTER NOW

For almost 30 years, the Portland Museum of Art and the Maine Art Education Association (MAEA) have collaborated to bring National Youth Art Month to Maine. This year marks the first time that Youth Art Month at the PMA will be digital.  

This annual exhibition emphasizes the value of art education and encourages support for quality school art programs through a month-long exhibition of artwork by K-12 students throughout the state. The exhibition will begin digitally on March 1, 2021 on the PMA’s website.

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Speak Your Voice

February 22, 2021

Maine Art Education Association Spring Art Exhibit

MAEA members are invited to submit artwork for consideration in the upcoming Speak Your Voice exhibition, hosted by the Master of Arts in Teaching Program at MECA! Have you expressed yourself through a work of art this year? Join us! Are you inspired to make art during what remains of our vacation? Share with us! SPEAK YOUR VOICE!

Registration Window:  March 1 – March 15, 2021

Online Exhibit: April 15 – May 9, 2021 FOR MORE INFORMATION CONCERNING Speak Your Voice, please contact Samara Yandell at syandell@biddefordshools.me

Submission is open to any art educator in the State of Maine who is a member of MAEA. Artists who have work accepted will have their websites and pieces promoted through MECA’s and MAEA’s social media channels. (#MAEASpeakYourVoice). As long as all submission requirements are met, anyone submitting who is an active MAEA member will have one piece chosen for the exhibit. 

Please review the Guidelines at http://www.meca.edu/maea before submitting. You will receive a confirmation email after submitting.


Artists have the option of selling their work for a 70% commission. A link will be posted for viewers to make purchases through the MAEA website, with 30% of the proceeds going to benefit Maine College of Art. For works of art sold during the MECA MAT exhibit, once payment method is confirmed we will contact the artist with the buyer’s contact information to arrange delivery of the work. MAEA will distribute the payment to the artist less the commission for MECA. 

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MICA

February 21, 2021

Maine Arts Commission provided conference

Thanks to the Maine Arts Commission outstanding staff another fantastic Maine International Conference on the Arts (MICA) took place this year. Even though it happened virtually the quality of presentations was outstanding. And, fortunately the amazing sessions were recorded and available for you to watch them over and over by CLICKING HERE.  

In addition to the workshops the performances are available to watch as well by CLICKING HERE. They vary greatly and the topics are very interesting. It’s a great way to listen and learn about something you’re curious about or perhaps you’ve never heard of. Scan through the titles and descriptions, make a list of what you’d like to watch and when. Grab your favorite snack and sit back in a comfy chair and enjoy each and every one.

One of the workshops during the conference was called Creating Welcoming Spaces. As a follow up to that workshop MAC is offering a follow-up session. In this continued conversation happening LIVE February 25 at 1 p.m. on the Maine Arts Commission’s Facebook Page, moderator Marty Pottenger will again be joined by Samuel James, Brigid Rankowski, Chris Newell, Nyamoun Nquany Machar (Moon), and Bridget Matros to discuss the long term work needed to make our spaces and programs more all-embracing,  accessible, and genuinely welcoming to our increasingly diverse community of Mainers. 

Everyone attending this event  is encouraged to watch the first session from the Virtual MICA conference.

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Former President Visits Portland

February 19, 2021

Barack Obama converses with Telling Room students

On January 26 former President Barack Obama participated in a zoom conversation with 26 students from Portland’s Telling Room’s Young Writers & Leaders program, an after-school creative writing and leadership program for international and multicultural students. For security reasons the virtual conversation was kept quiet but fortunately the conversation was videotaped and you can see the edited version below that was released this week to the media.

President Obama talked with the students about his recently published memoir, “A Promised Land.” Each student received a copy and were clearly thrilled for the opportunity to ask the President some questions and hear from him about writing and other topics. He talked a little about his play list and admits that he can’t listen while writing because he starts singing and moving. His final advice to the group was to “reach out to those who are doing what they want to be doing and ask them to teach you”.

The relationships with the Obama family has been going on for some time. Co-founder of the Telling Room, Sara Corbett is friends with Michelle Obama and helped with the President’s memoir. You can read the entire article in The Portland Press Herald, published on February 18th.

Telling Room’s Young Writers & Leaders program, an after-school creative writing and leadership program for international and multicultural students. 

Telling Room Mission

At the Telling Room, we empower youth through writing and share their voices with the world. Focused on young writers ages 6 to 18, we seek to build confidence, strengthen literacy skills, and provide real audiences for our students. We believe that the power of creative expression can change our communities and prepare our youth for future success.

One the years The Telling Room has been a recipient of Arts Learning Grants provided by the Maine Arts Commission. Their story has been shared on this blog in the past. Learn more about available funding for arts education on the Maine Arts Commission website.

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Works in Progress

February 18, 2021

Thornton Academy Dance

Emma Campbell, dance teacher at Thornton Academy has shared the amazing virtual performances created by her students. One choreographer student said: “I wanted to create a dance that would help lift everyone’s spirits”. I’d say, her goal was achieved! Emma says: “My students are desperately craving performances.” As I viewed the video I could feel the students emotions, their commitment to dance and their skills are evident. I invite you to support these students by viewing the video that includes a variety of dances. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

My favorite dance is called Never Grow Up. From the dancers: “Our piece is about going through different stages to where we are now. To achieve this for the project, we each embodied the mindset of a different phase in our life to show the growth we have each gone through.”

It’s simple to ‘buy’ your FREE ticket – CLICK HERE – it will take you to the streaming site. You will be asked to add your email address (so you can get the streaming link) and phone number but don’t worry, NO credit card. If you’re wondering what the Thornton dance studio classroom looks like, you’ll see a peek of that also. This is only available until February 21 so don’t hesitate!

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Arts Education Advocacy Day

February 16, 2021

Don’t miss it!

REGISTER HERE TO PARTICIPATE

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an Un-Still Life

February 12, 2021

Film Premiere

We are thrilled to announce the film premiere of 
Natasha Mayers: an Un-Still Life
Thursday, February 25, 2021, 7:00–8:30 p.m.
Virtual, via Vimeo & Zoom Video Q&A
Tickets available through 
Eventbrite–FREE for all and all are welcome!

Artist. Trickster. Activist. Natasha Mayers: an Un-Still Life follows Maine’s “most committed activist artist” in her quest to engage with the questions that face people-of-conscience today. 

Humor. Anger. Love. Outrage. Grief. Hear Natasha’s inspirational call to activism; join her and filmmakers Anita Clearfield and Geoffrey Leighton at the virtual film premiere!

Now, more than ever, people want to see truthful, creative role models like Natasha Mayers, who Maine Senator George Mitchell called a “state treasure.” Natasha Mayers: an Un-Still Life presents an artist who has remained true to her passion for over 50 years, following Natasha as she takes on social, economic, and environmental justice issues with humor, irreverence, and a keen aesthetic that enlightens while it entertains. Using a non-traditional approach, the film’s animation and special effects reflect Mayers’ own art-style. 

Once the film has premiered, those of you who contributed to the Indiegogo campaign will receive your premiums — Thank you for your patience!
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Allagash Wilderness Waterway Visiting Artist

February 11, 2021

Applications Open

AUGUSTA, Maine – Applications are now open for the Allagash Wilderness Waterway (AWW) 2021 Visiting Artist Program, which brings artists to the remote wilderness of Maine for two-weeks of solitude. The program provides artists with the opportunity to immerse themselves in nature to interpret and share their experiences through their art. For summer 2021, one chosen artist and a guest will receive complimentary lodging at the AWW Lock Dam Camp for two weeks during August and orientation by AWW rangers. The application deadline is February 28, and notification will be made by March 20, 2021. Interested artists are encouraged to apply now online.

Lock Dam Camp is a one-room cabin on the northern end of Chamberlain Lake, one of the largest and deepest lakes in the North Maine Woods. For 28 summers, it was the home of Dorothy Boone Kidney and her husband Milford – where they provided information to canoeists and tended the dam. Dorothy wrote two books about their life at Lock Dam, Wilderness Journal: Life, Living, Contentment in the Allagash Woods of Maine, and Away from it all.

Lock Dam Camp

Lock Dam Camp is located approximately 10 miles from the boat launch at the southern end of Chamberlain Lake and 60 miles from the nearest town, Millinocket. Amenities include:

  • Hand-pumped running water.
  • A wood stove.
  • Gas appliances including a cookstove and refrigerator.
  • Solar-powered lights. 

Lock Dam is a favorite spot for canoeists traveling the AWW, anglers, and those who are looking for a quiet retreat from our modern world. 

Artists can learn more about the AWW and access the 2021 application on the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry website. Or by contacting Matt LaRoche, AWW Superintendent and Registered Maine Guide, at (207) 695-2169, matt.laroche@maine.gov.

2020 was the first year this program was in place and art teacher/artist Michael Vermette was selected. See an interview with him below.

If you have questions please contact Jim Britt at jim.britt@maine.gov.

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