Posts Tagged ‘Haystack Mountain School of Crafts’


MAEA Conference

June 4, 2021

Re-stART: MAEA 2021 Fall Conference- September 17-18, 2021

The Maine Art Education Association (MAEA) Fall Conference is being planned after a year without it and after the struggles we have all faced with the pandemic. This will NOT be held at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts as they are still working on a reopening plan. MAEA is planning a full return for 2022. Instead, this fall MAEA is offering an in-person “satellite” conference at several venues, studios, and locations throughout the state. This will be a two-day event, in small groups, with 18 studio offerings! The conference will run from 8am-5pm during those two days. Room and Board will not be offered for most studios, however with so many locations, you may be able to find one close, or experience some of the great hospitality Maine has to offer. This does cut down on the conference cost significantly though as well!  

The theme of the fall conference is Re-stART. With the worst of the covid crisis hopefully behind us and the acknowledgment of many social disparities, we are looking forward, using the silver linings and new understandings we have learned to continually improve our practice, our wellbeing, and our social interaction.  We see this as something of a new beginning, a chance to make systemic changes and to highlight the best of mankind and of ourselves. This is an opportunity for us to make the changes we know can improve the structures we have found ourselves in. A chance to “Re-stART”. While not all workshops will focus on this theme, we hope it is something we can all reflect on as we begin a new school year this fall. Join MAEA this fall to learn a new craft, refine an old one, and/or develop art making skills with fellow arts educators! 

Registration opens July 1st at 7:00 AM. Make sure to read the descriptions thoroughly for locations, recommendations, and other applicable fees (specifically for those that offer room and board). If you’re not a member of MAEA now is the time to become one so you can participate in the conference.



September 19, 2017

MAEA Fall Conference

Almost 100 visual art educators traveled to Deer Isle Maine for the annual 3-day conference. Some had to drive 5 hours to get there. When I reach the bridge over to the island and smell the salt air and see the seabirds flying, I know whoever has made the long trip, doesn’t question its worth. The conference is held at the beautiful Haystack Mountain School of Crafts and sponsored by the Maine Art Education Association (MAEA). The organization stands on the shoulders of giants and many of those names were mentioned over the weekend.

MALI Teacher Leaders


A HUGE THANK YOU to Carolyn Brown for chairing the conference and to all of the Maine Art Education board members and the organization members who volunteer to do the hours of work to make the conference so wonderful!


  • A GREAT learning opportunity
  • Delicious food
  • Beautiful environment
  • Opportunity to meet art teachers from across the state
  • Amazing people who are open to sharing, exchanging ideas, and providing support
  • A wonderful feeling of community

Yes, that is guacamole


  • The opportunity to learn is amazing; like no other that I have
  • I get to feel what my students feel while learning something new
  • I look around and wonder if my art is good enough and I remember we’re all in this together
  • What an opportunity to push my limits
  • I’m learning at full speed
  • Now I can go back to my school feeling totally nourished

Workshop offerings

  • Expanding Your Fiber Universe: Lissa Hunter

  • Block Printmaking – Balance and Texture: Holly Berry

  • Exploring the Basics of BronzClay Jewelry Fabrication: Nisa Smiley

  • Visual Journaling: Sandy Weisman

  • Making Animal Sculptures with Clay using Enclosed Forms and Additions: Tim Christensen

  • Bringing Digital Fabrication into your Curriculum: Elliot Clapp

  • Experimental Watercolor Painting: Erica Qualey

  • Past to Present: Personal Found Object Assemblage Inspired by Shrines, Alters, and Reliquaries: Stephanie Leonard and Suzanne Southworth


Congratulations Stu

December 12, 2015

Makers, Mentors and Milestones

KC-Emaillogo[14]Stuart Kestenbaum to be named honorary member of the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts during the Makers, Mentors and Milestones: the 50th Annual Conference of the Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts!

Stu was the director of the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts for 26 years, and left in May of 2015.The November 10, 2016 conference will be held in Kansas City Convention Center and will explore personal, social and aesthetic forces that animate creative work with elemental materials, methods and ideas in the midst of the information age.

Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 8.51.42 PMRecipients of this award have made outstanding contribution to the professional development of the ceramic arts. Haystack serves learners and teaching artists from throughout the U.S. and abroad. Under Stu’s leadership programming has included workshops, community focused initiatives, mentorship for teens, interdisciplinary symposia, retreats, a writers’ series, residencies, and launched a digital fabrication studio.




In Today’s News

October 23, 2014

Portland Press Herald

This following article was written by Bob Keyes.

Stuart and wife Susan Webster receiving the Maine Alliance for Arts Education Advocacy award in 2012

Stuart and wife Susan Webster receiving the Maine Alliance for Arts Education Advocacy award in 2011

DEER ISLE — Stuart Kestenbaum, director of the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts for 26 years, will leave his position in May 2015.

He recently informed the school’s board and staff of his intentions.

Kestenbaum, a poet, will stay in Deer Isle and continue to work in the arts.

“I can’t imagine a better place to work than Haystack,” he said in a statement. “I am leaving to continue the investigations that the school has inspired in me – to write and speak about creativity, to explore connections between art and science, and to consult with organizations on how to develop and maintain dynamic programs.”

During Kestenbaum’s tenure, Haystack has become a leading center for the study of craft, creativity and culture. The school attracts international students and teachers, offers workshops for high school students, conferences, retreats, a writing series and residency program and a digital fabrication studio.

Kestenbaum is known nationally. The College of Fellows of the American Craft Council elected him an honorary member and the James Renwick Alliance awarded him a Distinguished Educator’s Award.

A national search for his replacement is planned, said Lissa Hunter, chair of the school’s board.

Haystack “is a world-class institution in large part because of the dedication, skill and creativity” of Kestenbaum, she said.


Haystack GATEWAY

April 27, 2013

From the Director, Stuart Kestenbaum

imagesI absolutely love getting the Gateway Newsletter from Haystack Mountain School of Crafts located in Deer Isle, Maine. My favorite part is reading the segment on the front page called From the Director. Stuart Kestenbaum is the director and has been at the school for several years now. He is an accomplished writer and when I read his From the Director segment I am “there” at Haystack. Stu’s gift of writing helps me smell, taste, feel, hear and imagine whatever he is describing.

When I arrived home today I found the Gateway in my mailbox and before I even took my coat off I stood in the kitchen reading his message. For those of you who have been to Haystack I am sure you will easily picture his words. For those of you who have not been so fortunate, I am guessing his piece will provide you with the images he describes.

Thank you to Stu for permission to re-print his message below. Many of Stu’s columns, along with some other writing in creativity, have been collected in one book called The View from Here: Craft, Community, and Creative Process, published last year from Brynmorgen Press.

Spring 2013

Once upon a time there were pay phones. You could drop a dime in the slot to make a local call and talk as long as your wanted, or with a pocket full of change you could talk long distance, with the operator coming on from time to time to tell you how much the next few minutes would cost. You could make collect calls, which wouldn’t cost you anything. If you were a savvy phone user, you could call home collect, the operator would announce your name and your parents could refuse the charges, and know for free that you had arrived safely at a distant location.

In those golden days of the landline, the pay phone was everywhere—gas stations, restaurants, movies, hospitals, and on street corners.  Some had glass bi-fold doors—I think there is still one at Moody’s diner in Waldoboro—where you could be in an intimate space of quiet conversation while the world bustled outside.

Pay phones witnessed heartbreaks and celebration, arrivals and departures. They were an essential way to communicate. Haystack used to have two pay phones—one in the dining room and one in a handmade booth on the main deck, built of spruce siding with a cedar shingled roof. The word “Confessional” is carved on the door.  The Confessional is right next to the office and without intending to, you might sometimes hear the caller’s description of the dinner menu, studio work, or life with roommates.

Other than writing letters or cards, those two phones were the only way to communicate with friends and family. We would even ask people to limit their calls so everyone could have a turn, and you could often hear the phones ring—real bells not a ringtone—at meals.

Times change. In Maine, New England Telephone became NYNEX, which became Verizon. The mobile phone arrived. Verizon sold its Northern New England landline business to a company called Fairpoint. A few years ago, Fairpoint informed us that since we weren’t generating enough income for them from the phone in the dining room, we would have to pay a very large monthly fee. So the phone was removed. You can still see its ghostly imprint on the wall.

Last fall Fairpoint jettisoned its no longer paying for itself pay phone business, selling it to another company, which informed us that they wanted us to pay another exorbitant fee for the remaining phone—the Confessional. We refused, and sometime this spring the phone will be removed. The building will remain—I think of it as our own shrine to communication. Perhaps people with the urge to talk on the cell phones can sit in there and talk, or just quietly confess to no one.

Now we can communicate in so many ways—talk, text, email, facebook and tweet.  Even with our slow internet on an island in Maine, information moves pretty quickly and constantly too. Of course quick isn’t always what we’re after, especially when it’s coupled with constantly. At Haystack we have the rare opportunity to disconnect. We can disconnect from the part of our lives that is sometimes swirling around us with more information than we can process, and re-connect with another part of ourselves.  It’s the part that’s not skimming the surface, but diving deeper, it’s the part with the questions and other answers. It’s the part that has been waiting for us to call.

Stuart Kestenbaum



An Email from Dan!

September 19, 2012

I received the following email yesterday morning from Mount Desert Island High School Art Educator Dan Stillman. Dan and his two visual art colleagues, Charlie Johnson and Elizabeth Keenan all enjoyed the opportunity of attending the visual art education conference.

Dear Argy,

Once again our MAEA (Maine Art Education Association) Haystack weekend rejuvenated the student-artist in me and inspired the teacher within me too!

Please indulge an inspired rant:

During my reflective return trip home on Sunday, I mulled over a few stories from art teachers who had a challenging time convincing their administration of the importance of attending yearly Haystack workshops.

I lamented “Why can’t some administrators understand how important it is for an artist to expand his portfolio and broaden her range of media? Why would they even hesitate to support the feeding of our souls? Don’t they want happy, inspired art teachers?!

It later occurred to me that perhaps our MAEA Haystack weekend might be experiencing the same perception challenges that many of our art classes do in our schools back home…

My experience is that most art students, parents, guidance counselors, administrators, and teachers-of-the-three-R’s naively measure the merits of an art class by the tangible art works and the apparent “fun” students have making them. “Specials” are often perceived as a reward for the students– a pleasant break from the rigors of an academic day. Is Haystack just a resort? Just an artist’s retreat? A pleasant break from the rigors of teaching?

While those perceptions are appreciative in nature, we art educators KNOW there are valuable skills and practical benefits to practicing one’s art. Do our principals and superintendents understand the rigor and discipline of an exhausting right-brained workout? Do they understand the degree to which our Haystack workshops put the ARTS STANDARDS into practice?

They should…and it’s up to us to teach ‘em.

  • WE are the teachers and preachers of the CREATIVE PROCESS for crying out loud!
  • WE offer an entirely different vocabulary and language to communicate and demonstrate understanding in all the academic disciplines!
  • AND we work and play at the tippy top of Bloom’s Taxonomy!

For sooo long the arts have been peripheral enrichment to core-subject learning in public education…

Now we have representation at the State level, our own Essential Standards and evolving, technologically-advanced assessments that give us voice and a level of pedagogical understanding no other generation of art teachers (or Haystack participants) have had before…

We should write thank you letters to our learning communities, show them samples of our work and spell out the rigor and reflection we enjoyed… and endured.

Those rushed samples of our weekend art-making can’t capture the intensity of our humbling experience as a student of art and the learning process. We need to share teacher-artists statements too.

Haystack where is not just a break from school… it IS SCHOOL that humbles us right back into students!


2012 Haystack – Maine Art Educators conference

Photos in this post were taken by Charlie Johnson. You can view other photos from the conference by clicking here.



September 18, 2012

A trip to Haystack for professional development

I had the privilege and time to attend the Maine Art Education Association annual fall conference at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts this past Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I participated in the Basket Making session with 9 visual art teachers from different parts of the state. It was FABULOUS! Most importantly for art educators who attend, other than during the time teachers take to sleep, it is a continuously opportunity for professional development.

The weather was beautiful for most of the weekend and extra special on Sunday morning. I was up until long past midnight on Saturday night completely engaged in creating my 3rd basket. I woke up Sunday morning at 6AM and popped out of bed anxious to get back to the studio to start a 4th basket. I was distracted by the light on the ocean and had to make my way down to the rocks for a few minutes to reflect on my good fortune. To be able to spend time creating in such a beautiful place is a special gift. And to be with a large group of art educators committed to learning is unique!

When I attended Haystack as a teacher and would return to my classroom my students would be so excited to see what I had made and I was equally excited to share. I would attempt to explain to my colleagues about Haystack. Anyone who has been there understands the Haystack experience. What is Haystack to art teachers? What does the experience provide? Why is it important? What is essential to communicate with students, colleagues, and perhaps parents about the experience? Do art teachers have a responsibility to communicate about the experience?

Here is what the opportunity offers me, still, after all these years (I think I’ve attended the fall conference 28 times out of the last 32 years)…

  • I am put in the position of “learner” and understand  how students feel
  • Sometimes I am pushed to the edge and it is uncomfortable, I am stretched and sometimes stressed
  • I experience the creative process and I am engaged creatively and use my creativity
  • My time is limited – I want to do more and tell myself that I can sleep when I am dead
  • Being in an environment I love motivates me and engages all my senses
  • I have the chance to ask art teachers questions about their work as educators and listen to their ideas, questions, excitement, disappointments, and concerns
  • When they get excited about the work they are doing with students it tells me how fortunate Maine is to have such great teachers who not only care about students but are willing to go deeper to become better teachers. Their passion comes through loud and clear!
  • I connect with others and their work when I visit the various studios and see what they are doing. I learn from each of them as they explain their process, their challenges, their ideas and on and on.
  • My soul is nourished in every way and all my senses are awakened and reaching their potential
  • I forget about what I have to do (my lists of work tasks back home) and do what I want to do (create)!
  • I reflect on my work, articulate my learning verbally, put it in writing, share in the critique process, problem solve, integrate my thinking, depend and build on my past learning, and go to the next level.
  • I feel a great deal of pride!
  • I know that this learning opportunity mirrors the work of teachers and is an essential part of professional development opportunities that I have.

As I traveled towards home on Sunday afternoon I tried to imagine what my life as an art educator would be like if there was no Haystack in my world?! I wonder what I will tell my colleagues about the experience? Will I describe the three days and will they understand? Will I be fortunate enough to attend next year?! I sure hope so.

Thank you to Maine Art Ed Association for organizing the conference and especially to the co-chairs Holly Houston and Lynn Wildnauer and the registrar Deb Bickford for their time and commitment to the planning.

Thank you to MDI art educator Charlie Johnson for supplying many of the photos for this blog post.

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