Archive for the ‘Visual Arts’ Category


Once Upon a Time

February 17, 2019

Folk Art Studio course for kids

Once upon a time… the beginning of a fairy tale starts with a big beautiful initial letter. Today we will work with the first letter of your name to create a beautiful ornamental letter/monogram in celebration of hand made typography. We will create our own decorative initial cap font using colored pencils and markers. We’ll start out with a brief history of letters, look at a few examples from past to present and then take off on our own journey exploring myriad ways to embellish, flourish and design our own abstract or floral initial letter. If you have a favorite pen or marker you use, bring it with you.

Design work by Jessica Hische

Folk Art Studio at Fiber & Vine, 402 Main Street, Norway is offering Once Upon a Time class on March 16. The course is being taught by Virginia Valdes who is the Graphic Design and Digital Imaging instructor at the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School in South Paris.

March 16 – Session 1 | Ages 6-8 | 10am-12pm Session 2 | Ages 9-12 | 1pm-3pm Tuition $35 | Scholarships available

Register before March 9 at


MALI Teacher Leader Story: Shalimar Poulin Chassé

February 12, 2019

Art Educator


This is one of six blog posts in 2019 that include stories of the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Phase 8 Teacher Leaders and Teaching Artist Leaders. This series includes a set of questions so you can learn a little bit about each leader. CLICK HERE  for more information on MALI. CLICK HERE  for more information on the 96 Teacher Leaders and 11 Teaching Artist Leaders. CLICK HERE  for Arts education resources. CLICK HERE for the MALI Resource Bank. Search in the “search archives” box on the bottom right side of this post for past teacher leader stories. Thank you Shalimar for sharing your story!

Shalimar Poulin Chassé teaches students in grades 6 through 12, visual art at Wiscasset Middle High School. This is her 4th year facilitating a full choice high school program. Shalimar also is the studio art director at Buker Community Center in Augusta.

She was honored to sit at the table in the early stages of the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative (MAAI), and now to join the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative. She is grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with motivated, educated, and curious colleagues. This blog post is in Shalimar’s own words from here…

Chapter 1 of my story was my first year at Wiscasset High School, soon after leaving Gardiner Area High- many moons ago. While I followed the required format in Chapter 1, I offer here in Chapter 2 a freestyle review of some background and update in the form of briefs (perhaps a suitable fit for we busy arts educators): 

Twenty-five year veteran engaged in modified to full choice-based art programing for students grades 6th-12th grades at Wiscasset Middle High School. Aiming to continue developing resources for students and colleagues wishing to engage in or offer their students a self-directed study that meets program and state standards for current, quality art education. 

When school is not in session, enjoy working with Augusta area community members of all ages, ability and means as director and instructor for Buker Studio Arts- also a choice-based Augusta Recreation program. This program began in the summer of 2014 and continues to be kindly supported by families who value art education extensions beyond that which area public schools offer.

Raised in Maine, one of three siblings- all who went to college for art. From a four generation line of artists- mother a painter and father a craftsman. Interest in learning a diversity of media is reflected in my personal artistic journey- Visit Shalimar Corneille Noire on Facebook. Favorite relaxing work- Maine wild flowers and landscapes- pastel spiritual work with an expressive, narrative, multi-media and sometimes collaborative approach combines wood carving, weaving, mosaic and collected personal artifacts. 

Always had an interest in teaching- it comes naturally. Love to learn. Find learning and teaching to be symbiotic.

Recently married to fifteen year partner, best friend and special education teacher, Scott. Favorite activity: family time- hanging with Scotti and our Standard Parti Poodles Skye and Ruby. Value sharing time with family and friends- especially when school is out of session and we can relax and enjoy.  

Love Maine outdoor activities including: walking, biking, snow shoeing, x-country skiing, swimming/aqua fit, kayaking, sailing. Enjoy Qi Gong, Yoga, and quiet meditations. Love to write, drum, and explore new media types and techniques to share with students and use in my own practice. Special interest in sharing my love of water exercise with others returning to active lives after an injury, illness or a busy lifestyle- I teach Aqua Fit classes a couple of evenings a week. Scott and I have a seasonal campsite at Green Valley Campground, Vassalborough and seasonal passes to Quarry Rd Nordic Ski Center- we are grateful to have beautiful placesto spend time with the outdoors.


Teacher of the Year MSAD 11 ’08, Maine Art Educator of The Year ’09, MAAI Keynote Speaker (with Rob Westerberg and Jeff Beaudry) for Arts Assessment For Learning Conference ’11, Former Fifteen Year Triathlete, Kidney Donor (2011 for my Dad who is doing very well enjoying life in his mid 70s), Stage Three Breast Cancer Survivor (diagnosis 2015, difficult treatment, approaching end of three year recovery- clean imaging and hope for a healthy future.)

Recovering Over-Achiever + Often Hard on Myself = Tendency to have High Expectations for my students and lean towards being hard on students and can be demanding if I am not careful. To address this trait, I aim to pay special attention to the balance between achievement and relationship nurturing; and, carefully facilitate appropriate challenges and support for each student’s process, growth and level of study. One day at a time, I aim to be kind to myself and surround myself with those who model a healthy balance in their lives.

Best Classroom Moments- A student “gets it”, turns on to art, believes they can be creative, recognizes talent is not necessary to learn about and enjoy making art; and, without the advantage of talent, the skills of art can be learned with practice. A student, who has been accustomed to “spoon feeding” and who is most comfortable with recipes, embraces the opportunity to sit in the driver’s seat, take charge of their learning, think outside the box, and approach problem solving with curiosity, courage and humility. A student learns for maybe the first time the value of art in their lives and the lives of others. A passerby takes time to “really look” at the student art in the halls, reaches out to student artists, and begins a conversation that might help both participants grow. My students and I learn together new processes, techniques, media types and their success far surpasses my own and our expectations. A student’s passion is infectious- and our class operates like a well oiled engine rich with supportive peers, student leadership, creative conversation, and enjoyment of the creative process.

Special interest in supporting at risk students- those without IEP or 504 supports and often with limited resources and less supportive home situations. Those that might slip under the table, unnoticed and less apt to self advocate. Current facilitator of the Student Success Team for which I have been a member during my tenure at WMHS.

Why Choice? As a student and person, and much like many students I work with daily, I have often felt confined by project criteria and recipes that dictate a particular process and perhaps result. At a critical point in my teaching journey, I recognized I was restricting my students to pre-conceived and teacher-preferred art types. While this approach guaranteed quality, it limited student’s opportunity to solve the blank page. What it came down to for me was this primary thought, “If my students might have only one semester of art in their post grammar school lives, let it be one to remember, the creation of a piece that they identify as theirs– something they want to take home. And with any luck, a creative experience born from courage, sustained with grit, and woven with moments of pleasure such that they might make time to create in their futures. Compromises? Sometimes students spend less time with isolated and comprehensive foundational Art Basics, sometimes there might be a reduction in Quality- as the scholars define it, and sometimes fear and confusion rise in the vastness of choice. A messier classroom climate where independence is a critical skill necessary to navigate- some less ready than others to drive through the creative process need tender nurturing to build skills and confidence necessary to navigate mostly solo. Flexibility and effective strategies to support these developing student artists is helpful.The choice-based classroom is unpredictable, exciting, rewarding, challenging, not always initially 100% successful for all- but memorable for most. 

As our choice-based ride is constantly morphing, I welcome conversations with art educators who offer choice in their classroom studios. I wonder how you manage a messier approach to management and instruction or better yet, facilitation. Several of we MALI folk are interested in forming a Maine chapter of the NAEA Choice Cohort. Want in? Contact me at: or 

Will be in attendance at this year’s NAEA Choice Interest Group and multiple Choice-based workshops at our Boston Convention beginning March 14th. Hope to return with a tool box of successful approaches tried and true by our colleagues across the Nation. If you wish to engage in an excellent study of historical and current trends in Choice-based Art Education, consider enrolling in an ArtofEd Choice-Based Art Class. Course description.

Distancing in from NAEA Boston, MALI Phase 8 Teacher Leader, Shalimar Chassé and her generous colleague and Choice-based Art Workshop facilitator Molly Carlson (Wiscasset Middle High School former Middle School Art Educator and current Special Education Instructor) will be presenting at the March 15th Oxford Hills High School MALI Mega Conference for those interested in learning more about approaches to Choice-based art education. Go here to register for a professional development opportunity, the MALI Mega, Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School, Friday, March 15, that promises to be filled with great ideas, passion for teaching and learning, and inspiring conversations lead by some fabulous art educators I have been so privileged to collaborate with through MALI 8.



February 9, 2019

Lord Hall Gallery


Donate for Life

February 8, 2019

High School student opportunity

The Donate Life Maine Poster Contest is open to all Maine high school students in grades 9-12. Students are invited to create a poster about organ and tissue donation awareness.


  • Artwork must be original. No copyrighted or trademarked artwork will be accepted for judging with the exception of the Donate Life logo.
  • Your entry must include positive and accurate messaging about organ and tissue donation and include the phrase “organ and tissue donation”.
  • Entry must be at least 8.5×11” and no larger than 18×24”.
  • Leave a 1” border around your poster, no writing, image or drawing within 1” of the edges.
  • Your entry must not have grammatical or spelling errors.
  • Your entry must have a completed entry form attached to your poster (must be legible).
  • Use materials that can be easily reproduced, such as paint, pencil, ink, charcoal, pastels, graphic design and photography. Do not fold, matte, laminate or frame.


Posters must be submitted and received by March 1, 2019.

  • E-mail graphic design entries to and include the entry form information.
  • Mail your submission with the official entry form attached to the back of the poster to: Maine Transplant Program, 19 West Street, Portland, Maine 04102 Attention: Ardyce Peters, M.S., Director, Kidney Transplant


Winners will be selected by a panel of judges based on criteria of originality, artistic merit and effective use of theme.

Find facts about organ donation at;;; watch our 8 minute video:

1st place winner will receive a $100 Amazon Gift Card
2nd place winner will receive a $75 Amazon Gift Card
3rd place winner will receive a $50 Amazon Gift Card
Teacher with the most art submissions will receive a $100 Amazon Gift Card for classroom materials.

Teachers and/or students reach out to the volunteer services at or with any questions they may have.


Arts Programming in Incarcerated Settings

February 7, 2019

Bowdoin student

Not long along Charlotte Borden, a senior at Bowdoin College visited the Maine Arts Commission office. In conversation I learned about her work with incarcerated men in Belfast. Below is the summary of her work. Charlotte is interested in connecting with anyone who may have experience or knowledge in this area. Feel free to email Charlotte directly at

Starting in late January, I will be conducting an independent study for my last semester at Bowdoin titled “The History and Current Practices of Arts Programming in Incarcerated Settings.” I will be doing original research and continuing to teach visual art at Maine Coastal Regional Reentry Center in Belfast.

I started teaching visual art in the summer of 2017. I carried out a 10 week self-designed project, funded by Bowdoin College’s McKinley Grant. The project consisted of teaching a five week introductory drawing/painting class at Maine Coastal Regional Reentry Center (MCRRC) as well as painting my students’ portraits. I brought an art class to MCRRC with the purpose of teaching skills to communicate through images. I also meant to provide exposure to the mood-stabilizing, peaceful, and constructive experience of making art. The class covered the gridding technique for representational drawing, negative space, proportions of the face, cross hatching and shading, basic volumetric and perspective drawing, and color theory. We also had the opportunity to go off-site for class time to paint from life. Maine Coastal Regional Reentry Center is a minimum security facility with increased access to programming and earned freedoms like the potential for work release. It is run in partnership with Volunteers of America and Waldo County Sheriff’s Department. Residents are incarcerated men in the last 9-18 months of their sentences.

For the second half of the project, I painted two portraits of each student. The portraits are part of my own skill development, as well as an intended work of activism. In presenting the portraits at Bowdoin, I meant to bring a population with many privileges, including the potential to influence societal norms and governmental policies, my impactful experience with six individuals this summer. I meant to bring attention to the atrocity of mass incarceration and to incarcerated and formerly incarcerated peoples’ limited rights and opportunities. I also hoped to encourage accepting attitudes toward as well as actionable work for the benefit of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people. Additionally, in asking the individuals how they wanted to be portrayed visually, I hoped I could work to provide a dignifying, positive experience rather than an exploitative one. My six students were able to attend the opening of their work and portraits at Bowdoin. It was a powerful mixing of my family and Bowdoin network and my students. Learn more about this program at THIS LINK

The issue of my coming in as a relatively unqualified outsider and providing what I deemed to be useful information and skills has been on my mind since the beginning brainstorm of this project. I also have been navigating the exploitative nature of portraiture, especially of incarcerated subjects. I know that this project does have aspects of my coming in as a privileged outsider, and using experiences of others in my art as well as for presentation in this project. I have worked to be aware and combat these elements. I think they will always be present as I am an outsider to the personal experience of incarceration, but I am sure I could do better! 

In the Fall of 2017, I created a collaborative video project (view below) in teaching my second class at MCRRC. My intention behind the collaborative video project was to create an opportunity for creative expression/communication through video and teach basic equipment skills. I wanted to provide opportunity for direction and content to come from the residents. Timelapse, time passing, changing seasons, and personal narratives were the ideas that surfaced. Most visual content surrounding each audio piece was created or chosen by that individual. Furthermore, the content of the audio piece was up to the individual. Filming is almost all by the students. Most editing was carried out by me with suggestions/edits/requests from the Residents after I presented drafts in person and through email.

In the Fall of 2018, I returned to Maine Coastal Regional Reentry Center to teach introduction to drawing and painting again as a volunteer. This time, I had two students, whom I was able to give individualized instruction and had more opportunity to get to know each other.


MALI Teaching Artist Leader Story: Shawna Barnes

February 5, 2019

Teaching Artist – Sculptor

This is one of six blog posts in 2019 that include stories of the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Phase 8 Teacher Leaders and Teaching Artist Leaders. This series includes a set of questions so you can learn a little bit about each leader. CLICK HERE  for more information on MALI. CLICK HERE  for more information on the 96 Teacher Leaders and 11 Teaching Artist Leaders. CLICK HERE  for Arts education resources. CLICK HERE for the MALI Resource Bank. Search in the “search archives” box on the bottom right side of this post for past teacher leader stories. Thank you Shawna for sharing your story!

Shawna N.M. Barnes is a Ceramic Sculptor who has been focused on teaching for three years. Her favorite group to teach is the one full of people who “don’t think they can” because of a disability. Or never gave art a try because of their disabilities. “Problem solving and finding ways to show them they can create and engage in creativity… is amazing.”

What do you like best about being a teaching artist?

I love all the people I have met as a teaching artist. Doors that have been opened, and opportunities presented. It has provided me the ability to share my passions with others who appreciate it.

What do you believe are three keys to ANY successful visual and performing arts education?

First, allowing for differential interpretations of a topic. Essentially acknowledging that the world is full of gray. And when it comes to art, the spectrum of how art and its concepts are perceived, truly is a spectrum.

Second, the ability to acknowledge that art is a bridge between worlds. Whether that be yours and mine, real and fantasy, or past and future. It allows for difficult conversations to be had, often bridging a divide caused by a lack of understanding. Teaching this concept to our students is vital.

Third, the ability to appreciate content, subject matter and skills needed to complete a work of art without having to like the art itself. The ability to see it with an objective eye.

Have you found assessment to be helpful in your classes, workshops and residencies, and if so, how?

Thus far, assessments have helped guide the evolution of my classes and workshops. By evaluating what is working, what is not; what different ages and abilities respond to; I have been able to fine tune the classes so that the highest number of people fund value and enjoyment from the class.

What have been the benefits in becoming involved in the Maine Arts Leadership initiative?

The benefits have been innumerable! It has been the push I needed to create the resource center in my website. I have been given the opportunity to grow my speaking career by giving presentations at conferences. It has sparked collaborations between several members for brand music, for upcoming tutorials, and similar applications. It has introduced me to a group of peers that have become my support network. It has given me the confidence in my own set business that my intuition is right and I am on the right path.

What are you most proud of as an artist and/or a teaching artist?

I am most proud of breaking barriers and showing others where barriers exist. As a disabled artist, I often chose to just not participate in events and workshops because it was easier. I’m taking my challenges and helping create solutions that benefit not just me… but hopefully generations of disabled learners and artists so that they can have access to creative outlets.

What gets in the way of doing a better job as a teaching artist?

My health, admittedly. It can cause me to be unreliable and miss deadlines. Another factor is physical accessibility to facilities that may want to host me for workshops or seminars

What have you accomplished through hard work and determination that might otherwise appear at first glance to be due to “luck” or circumstances?

Simply being an artist is hard work and requires determination every day to put the work in. I work through a variety of disabilities just to be able to create; myasthenia gravis,  cervical dystonia,  hypermobility joint syndrome, seizures, chronic pain, peripheral neuropathy and PTSD are the heavy hitters.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about becoming a teaching artist or is just starting out?

You will stumble as you find your footing but don’t let that detour you from continuing to put the work in to build the foundation of your career. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  There’s plenty of room for everyone at the top, do not entertain a scarcity mindset. 

If you were given a $500,000.00 to do with whatever you please, what would it be?

Build my handicap accessible studio. Give a few grants to local artists and arts organizations looking to make their space accessible by adding ramps or stairlifts to their infrastructure. And spend a few weeks in Paris, soaking up all the amazingness that is the Louvre.

Imagine you are 94 years old. You’re looking back. Do you have any regrets?



Celebrating Teachers

February 3, 2019

Proud of arts educators

Today is the last day nominations are being accepted for the 2019 County Teachers of the Year and the 2020 Maine State Teacher of the Year.

Information is located on the Maine Teacher of the Year Website.

The Maine State Teacher of the Year process of selecting and recognizing educators is very extensive. The process starts in January with nominations and during the following several months essays are written and submitted, interviews take place, presentations occur and video tapes created. Many are nominated of which each county has a teacher named. After 9 months the process takes it down to 3 finalists and in the end one teacher is selected. Each year in November a gala celebration happens where all of the county teachers of the year are recognized along with the next years State Teacher of the Year.

Anthony Lufkin

The 2019 gala took place the week before Thanksgiving. It was to see Kaitlin Young, music educator, Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teacher Leader and the 2018 Maine Teacher of the Year emcee the evenings program. It was a chance to celebrate Kaitlin’s amazing journey and what she has contributed to education. She has been a wonderful representative of all Maine teachers and especially Visual and Performing Arts Educators. In addition, three more arts educators were celebrated. I’m so proud of their work.

  • Christine Del Rossi, Sagadahoc County, Visual Arts grades 9-12 Mt. Ararat High School
  • Anthony Lufkin, Knox Counnty, Visual Arts grades PreK-8 Union Elementary School, Prescott School (Washington), Friendship Village School, Middle School Alternative Education
  • David Coffey, Waldo County, Music grades 6-12 Belfast Area High School

Christine Del Rossi



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