Posts Tagged ‘art education’


Who Are They?: MECA, Part 3

March 25, 2015

Maine College of Art

This blog post is part of a series called Who Are They? where information is provided for the Maine Arts Ed blog readers to learn about community organizations and institutions that provide educational opportunities in the arts. You will learn that they are partnering with other organizations and schools to extend learning opportunities, not supplant.

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This is the third post on the Maine College of Art (MECA) which is located in downtown Portland. Sarah Sullivan is a first year student at MECA and was kind enough to answer questions for the Maine Arts Ed blog readers. (Perhaps you’d like to share this with high school students considering art school after graduation).

What was your art education like in elementary, middle, and high school? Who or what has inspired you?

Elementary school? All I can remember from elementary school is cut paper that I made into a semi-picture, and then watching the Seasame Street art movie called “Don’t Eat the Pictures” (it was fantastic). In my free time at home I’d roll under the coffee table in my house and draw on the bottom with crayons. In middle school I was selected for the “Gifted and Talented” Art class, which wasn’t as big a deal as it sounded.

It wasn’t until high school that I really got involved with art. Yes, I guess you can say I’d always been creative, but when I got to high school, suddenly I had choices and freedom to do what I wanted. I could choose not only to do art, but what kind of art as well. It was two of my high school art teachers, Peter Morgan, and Megan Boyd who really inspired me to pursue art. Mr. Morgan taught Composition and Design, which was an introductory class where we learned the basics of how to draw still life’s and compose good pieces. Everyone had to take it, so he had to deal with a lot of people who didn’t want to be there. He had a sarcastic streak, but he was honest, and he encouraged me to continue to take art classes. He taught me a lot of the basics which I use today.

Going into my Junior year of high school though, I hadn’t thought of pursuing art in higher education, hadn’t even considered making a career out of it. As much as I enjoyed art, and classes like Mr. Morgan’s, I didn’t see how I could possibly make a living doing that. Enter Megan Boyd. She taught Graphic Design and changed my whole world. She showed me this whole other side of art that I didn’t even know existed. She became my mentor, encouraging me to push my artwork, and helping me with whatever crazy scheme I’d thought of. I don’t know if I would be where I am today without her. Even now we still talk, and I send her my work to get her thoughts on it.

Why did you select MECA to continue with your education beyond high school?

I first heard about MECA through my friend Nichole (who is currently attending with me), when we were both looking for colleges. We were all talking in AP Art about how no one had any idea what they were doing when it came to looking for colleges. We’d all heard of Rhode Island School of Design and Pratt, but then she brought up MECA, mentioning that she enjoyed her visit. MECA sent me a free application, which was a pretty great deal since most of the other colleges were asking for $50. After winning a scholarship, and visiting for an open house, I was pretty much sold. I mean everything was so personal, heck the Dean of the school shook my hand and told me to call him Ian.

How was your transition to college? How do you describe living and learning in Portland?

Hmmm… my “transition” to college? I’d say it was relatively smooth. I mean I think everyone had like a day or two of home sickness, and orientation was excruciating, but I’ve been having a great time. It never really hit me like, “we live here now”, it was more just slipping into this routine that my friends and I have built over the months. Living in Portland is incredible. It’s not a big city, but it’s got so much energy. On the weekends you can go out and explore art galleries or shops. There’s always something exciting happening to get involved in. It’s very different than a campus experience. It’s more than just walking in between your dorm room and your classes. At MECA, you work within this larger community, in the real world. MECA students are continually exchanging and working with the people of Portland. It’s something you wouldn’t get on a normal college campus.

What did you value most in your arts education growing up?

The most important part, for me, of my art education while growing up was getting feedback from other people, and learning how to take that. I mean, it’s great if you can make art for yourself, but as an artist, you’ve got to put your work out there for other people. The whole reason we create is to share it with people. You want it to be the best it can be, and part of that process is other people critiquing your work. I’ve had some great teachers and friends who have always given me honest feedback on what I’m doing. It’s always hard hearing people speak negatively about your work, but over the years I’ve learned it’s really nothing personal. It’s about your work, and you’ve got to be open to new ideas and suggestions. I think learning about that process and being a part of it has really helped me get to where I am today.

What is your passion? Medium of choice?

Graphic Design is my passion. It’s more than just art, it’s problem solving. Designers are presented with these design challenges, you know, you’ve only got so much space or a limited color pallette. I find these challenges exciting, and I enjoy solving the problems that people present. I enjoy working digitally, but I do a lot of hand work at the same time. It’s hard to pick a medium of choice, but I work in Adobe Illustrator the most.

What are you hoping to get from your education at MECA?

Hopefully, by the end of my time here at MECA, I’ll have the knowledge and confidence to go out into the world with my work. MECA has a great team of professors and administrators willing to help you however you need. I’m hoping to have a strong portfolio of work after my 4 years here, and the skills to market that work. I want to learn not just the core concepts and basics of design, but how to apply them effectively. I hope that I come out of this experience a well rounded artist able to hold my own in the world.

What’s the most creatively inspiring experience you have?

That’s also a really hard question. I mean I think we’ve all had those moments where you’re doing anything and suddenly you get an urge to paint or draw. Sometimes I’ll be going through a lesson and I have an idea for a piece or something. It’s easy to get inspired if you’re open to it. Walking around Portland at night, with all the street lights on, especially now in the winter, has a really nice feeling. I wouldn’t say that every night is inspiring, but I would say walking at night puts me in the mood to create. It’s really beautiful, and I think the city at night has that effect on everyone.

Why is art important to you?

For me, art is a method of communicating with people, in a way that my words can’t. Art is a way of working through what’s inside my head. When I draw or I design, it’s more than just putting pencil to paper. When you make art you put all of your experiences and feelings into the work. People respond to your work, in ways that you can’t predict. It has the power to change peoples’ mindsets, inspire change. I see a lot wrong with the world today, and art is my way of trying to change things for the better. I believe in the power that art has, and the spirit that artists put into their work, which is why I have to be a part of it.

How does learning about art impact other parts of your thinking? Your life?

Learning about art has given me quite a different perspective on life than other people might have. As an artist you’re open and curious about the world. You see the beauty in everything. In a world full of war and politics you stand out from the crowd. In one of my classes we read the book “Artists in the Time of War” by Howard Zinn, and it completely changed the way I thought about politics and art. I find that I’m more open to ideas and change. As a designer, I like to problem solve, so I find that in life I’m always looking at things and trying to imagine them better. I think that learning about art, whether it be movements or artists, you start to see the another side of the world and history than what’s just plugged into textbooks or media. As an artist, I’ve got to be open to looking for new perspectives, different solutions, and beautiful things.


Who Are They?: MECA, Part 2

March 18, 2015

Maine College of Art

This blog post is part of a series called Who Are They? where information is provided for the Maine Arts Ed blog readers to learn about community organizations and institutions that provide educational opportunities in the arts. You will learn that they are partnering with other organizations and schools to extend learning opportunities, not supplant.

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This is the second post on the Maine College of Art (MECA) which is located in downtown Portland. Donald Tuski has been the President of MECA since July 2010. Tuski received his undergraduate degree at Olivet and then earned both his master’s degree and a doctorate in anthropology from Michigan State University. He built his academic career at Olivet, starting as a faculty member and assuming a variety of posts before serving as president for his last nine years at the college. Don is a Maine Arts Commission member. In President Tuski’s own words…

Next weeks MECA post will be an interview with student Sarah Sullivan.


Viles Arboretum Art Symposium

June 5, 2014

Invitation to Maine Art Teachers and Students for a unique opportunity

SS71The Viles Arboretum is pleased to extend an invitation to all elementary, middle and high school art teachers to sign up for a unique learning opportunity to be held at the Arboretum in Augusta from September 12 – 21, 2014. We will be holding the first Viles Arboretum Art Symposium on our grounds with eight nationally known artists creating stone sculptures from start to finish. The theme will be nature inspired art. During the week days, we will have five very special opportunities for Maine schools to participate in a private audience with one of the artists and to learn first-hand about the artists’ background, involvement in art, source of inspiration, and much more. In addition to this, each field trip class will be able to meet the other artists, ask questions and observe the various techniques for taking raw stone and turning it into a piece of beautiful art. There is no cost to participate. You just have to schedule your bus and students. Staff at the Arboretum will work with you to be sure all the opportunities you wish to create for your students are available. Please call the Arboretum at 626-7989 for more details or to schedule your group.

SS310The Viles Arboretum is centrally located in Augusta, Maine on 224 acres of fields, forests, wetlands and with botanical collections from around the world. We offer an ever-changing selection of inspirational exhibits, educational and practical programs for the general public and for schools. We focus on interactive, creative and hands-on teaching with a focus on botany and natural history. Our goal is to unlock everyone’s natural ability to understand the nature of our world through your own eyes and by using your own intellect.

We strive to make our 224 acres of fields, forests and wetlands, play a key role in contributing to the quality of life for Maine citizens and visitors from every corner of the world. Our presence contributes significantly to the quality of life in and around Augusta and beyond and our newly installed Art Trail presents the largest publicly accessible display of outdoor art sculpture in Maine.

You can learn more about the Arboretum and its programs, or how to become more involved by checking our website at, checking our Facebook page or simply by stopping in or calling us at 626-7989.

Your school can apply for the Maine Arts Commission Ticket to Ride funding to use for this opportunity. Please click here to  learn more and download the application. The process is fairly simple and there is a quick turn-around once the application is submitted.





Saco Museum “Artist’s Talk”

March 5, 2014

MAEA show

IMG_2670Brunswick art teacher Allison Price was the organizer of an intriguing “art talk” on a recent Saturday afternoon to accompany the Maine Art Education Association’s Exhibit titled “After Hours” at the Saco Museum.

Five other teaching artists gathered with Allison; Meryl Ruth, Robin Brooks, Manon Lewis, Debbie Bickford and Charlie Johnson. The  discussion included a wide range of topics, including artist’s early memories, advocacy, process vs. product, teaching creativity, relationships with students, teachers as artists and assessment, among others. The audience had several questions toward the end of the conversation and audience members came to Allison afterwards to tell her they could have listened for another hour because the discussion was so compelling.

The discussion in it’s entirety (90 minutes, but a good flow and clear audio) can be found at and there are a couple of short videos created from some of the artworks and clips of the discussion.       Saco Project       Saco Project 2

“I was so very impressed with the quality and variety of work in the “After Hours” exhibit, and sitting amongst the work of all these talented people to talk with colleagues about what we do with learners in the ARTS and why we do it was a most rewarding and affirming experience!”  Charlie Johnson

Thanks to Charlie Johnson, Mount Desert Island High School arts educator for contributing this blog post and creating the videos to document the opportunity.


Statewide Ceramics Show

February 1, 2014

1st Annual High School Ceramic Show scheduled April 9-26

Screen shot 2014-01-26 at 10.31.16 AMHigh school ceramic teachers (one entry per school) judge their students prior to the show. Each teacher is eligible (at no cost) to submit 1 utilitarian clay piece and 1 sculptural clay piece for the Gannet Gallery Show on or before March 29.

Students, families, community members, and school personnel are invited to attend the opening, scheduled for Wednesday, April 9, 5:00 – 7:00 PM. Prizes will be donated by local educational and artistic organizations to recognize the quality ceramic work that is created in our high schools in the state of Maine and presented at the opening.

How to Enter

  1. RSVP by copying the information below, fill out for each piece and email a to Russell Kahn at
  2. Print out info below for each entry and make sure it is taped to the work. Deliver or mail to Russell Kahn at Camden Hills Regional High School, or to the Harlow Gallery in Hallowell. Entries must be received by Saturday, March 29th

Artist(s) Name(s):

School or group:

Contact address (include city, state & zip):

Contact phone (and name if representing a group):

Contact email:



Title of sculpture/pottery:

Medium(clay, glaze, firing temp.):


Price if art is for sale:


  • Safely packaged work for drop off or mail by Saturday, March 29, to Russell Kahn, Camden Hills Regional High School, 25 Keelson Drive, Rockport, Maine 04856


  • Harlow Gallery, 160 Water Street, Hallowell, ME 04347
  • April 9-26, Gannett building gallery, 331 Water Street, Augusta, Maine opening the evening of  Wednesday, April 9, 5:00 – 7:00 PM
  • Pick-up April 28-30. After the 30th pieces will be auctioned or discarded because there is no storage at UMA or the Harlow Gallery. If you did send the artwork by snail mail, please include return postage…Thanks!!

Questions? Please contact Russell Kahn at 207-322-6168 or!

By submitting work, students, parents and school agree to have the images of the work used for future promotions. Also, UMA, Harlow Gallery, Russell Kahn, and anyone else involved with the show shall not be held responsible for broken ceramic pieces during shipping or the duration of the show.

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Dr. Elliot W. Eisner

January 15, 2014

Stanford professor passes, a great loss

Screen shot 2014-01-14 at 4.20.31 PMWhen I entered college in 1972 Elliot Eisner’s book Educating Artistic Vision had been recently published. It was used as a text in one of my Foundations of Art Education courses and provided a basis for looking closely at what I was considering spending my career doing. I remember it fondly and I plan to go to the attic this weekend and find that text just for a walk down memory lane. I am sure that some of you have memories from your teacher training days and Dr. Eisner or perhaps another researcher?! If so, please share a comment.

One piece that I love that Eisner wrote is about, not just visual art, but all the arts.

Ten Lessons the Arts Teach

The arts teach children to make good judgments about qualitative relationships.  Unlike much of the curriculum in which correct answers and rules prevail, in the arts, it is judgment rather than rules that prevail.

The arts teach children that problems can have more than one solution
and that questions can have more than one answer.

The arts celebrate multiple perspectives.  One of their large lessons is that there are many ways to see and interpret the world.

The arts teach children that in complex forms of problem solving purposes are seldom fixed, but change with circumstance and opportunity.  Learning in the arts requires the ability and a willingness to surrender to the unanticipated possibilities of the work as it unfolds.

The arts make vivid the fact that neither words in their literal form nor number exhaust what we can know.  The limits of our language do not define the limits of our cognition.

The arts teach students that small differences can have large effects.  The arts traffic in subtleties.

The arts teach students to think through and within a material.  All art forms employ some means through which images become real.

The arts help children learn to say what cannot be said.  When children are invited to disclose what a work of art helps them feel, they must reach into their poetic capacities to find the words that will do the job.

The arts enable us to have experience we can have from no other source
and through such experience to discover the range and variety of what we are capable of feeling.

The arts’ position in the school curriculum symbolizes to the young
what adults believe is important.

SOURCE: Eisner, E. (2002). The Arts and the Creation of Mind, Chapter 4, What the Arts Teach and How It Shows. (pp. 70-92). Yale University Press. Available from NAEA Publications.

The entire National Art Education Association community is saddened by the loss of our dear friend, mentor and leader, Dr. Elliot W. Eisner, 81, of Stanford, CA, on January 10, 2014. Elliot served as President of NAEA from 1977 – 1979 and is renown for his work in art education, curriculum reform, and qualitative research. His vision, intellect, and generosity of spirit will be celebrated at the 2014 NAEA National Convention in San Diego as we remember Elliot and his widespread influence. The family requests that memorial gifts be made to NAEA’s Eisner Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Eisner Lifetime Achievement Award, established in perpetuity by the Eisner family and NAEA, recognizes individuals in the field of art education who have made a sustained and significant contribution to the field through their work as a teacher, lecturer, or artist-including those who work in preschool, primary school, secondary school, and colleges and universities.

Find out more about the Eisner Lifetime Achievement Award at


Baby Journal Published

June 23, 2013

Art teachers with Westbrook Middle School students whose artwork is included in the book

You might remember back in September at the start of the 2012-13 school year the blog post that invited artwork submissions for the First Lady’s Baby book, “Love.Read.Learn!” Baby Journal. From that blog post and information going out to school’s and educators through other avenues there were over 800 pieces submitted for consideration. Every region of the state was represented and students from grades K – 8.

The project was a collaboration with the Barbara Bush Foundation and First Lady Ann LePage. The First Lady arranged the artwork throughout the Blaine House to be scored using a rubric derived from the AP rubric. First Lady Ann LePage, Becky Dyer from the Barbara Bush Foundation, and art teachers Lynne Shulman and Kathy Smith and I met at the Blaine House to score the artwork. It was great to share our love of teaching with both Becky and the First Lady. And a blog post announced the work selected.


Barbara Bush and Ann LePage at presentation of the book

A couple weeks ago I was invited to the unveiling of the book as it was presented to three new moms. Two of the students whose artwork was selected for the book (out of the 32), from Westbrook Middle School along with their teachers, principal, and their parents were in attendance as well.

I was so proud to see the completed book and all the students who submitted work. I know that the First Lady and Barbara Bush were inspired by the student work and dream of the possibilities. During the next year the book will be presented to new parents at each hospital in Maine. A great day for art education!

All the artwork published is at this link which is located on the front page of the meartsed blog.


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