Posts Tagged ‘Maine arts education’

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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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MAEA Conference and Awards

April 12, 2022

What a day for art education!

The Maine Art Education Association (MAEA) concluded an outstanding spring conference by presenting three, no four, awards to deserving educators. But first a word about the conference. I’ve been around long enough to see institutions transform, some for the third and fourth time. I had the pleasure of working on the planning committee for the MAEA spring conference that was held on Saturday, April 2 in Rockland at the Farnsworth Art Museum and CMCA. I’m not just talking about a conference that was held in both facilities but what took place was magical. It was delightful to see the two institutions partner with MAEA to put together a very worthwhile day for art educators.

Presentation by Daniel Salomon

The conference entitled Radical Reuse was planned and implemented by a group of people who had never worked together before, some new to their positions, and everyone went above and beyond. Over a two month period every Thursday the education staffs of both institutions and the MAEA conference planners came together on zoom to plan the annual spring conference. THANK YOU to everyone for a job well done! From CMCA: Mia Bogyo, and representing the Farnsworth: Gwendolyn Loomis Smith, Katherine Karlik, and Alexis Saba. MAEA president, Lynda Leonas, coordinated the effort with board members Iva Damon and Christine Del Rossi supporting. From the Rockland school district Richard Wehnke helped.

Printmaking with Sherrie York – Lynda Leonas and Iva Damon

The keynote was provided by Krisanne Baker, Medomak Valley High School art and ecology teacher and artist. She is committed to advocating for the ocean and inspires her students to learn about water quality, availability and rights, and ocean stewardship. Guest speaker Daniel Salomon who teaches in The Hatchery at Camden Hills Regional High School provided background information on the work he is doing with students utilizing and reusing materials and the role we each can play.

Gallery tour, Farnsworth

After the opening speakers, conference participants attended sessions on printmaking with Sherrie York, art making around ‘place’ with Alexis Iammarino, toured the Farnsworth Museum, and toured CMCA. Several merchants from Downtown Rockland supported the conference goers with discounts. During the middle of the day Daniel’s students from the Hatchery, set up outside CMCA, shared several of the projects they have been involved in this year.

Alexis Iammarino demonstrating, CMCA

AWARDS PROGRAM

The day concluded with honoring the work of four educators with an amazing backdrop of quilts at CMCA. The educators are outstanding in and out of the classroom, engaged in work at the local, regional, and state level. They work (and play) tirelessly, sometimes alone and often collaborating with others. Every day they exhibit all that is right about education. In their respective institutions they have a place at the table where they continuously advocate for students and art education. We know that an excellent education in the arts is essential, and these educators strive for every student to experience just that. 

The awards committee was led by Belfast Area High School art teacher Heidi O’Donnell. Members of the committee included Hope Lord, Maranacook Middle School art teacher and Suzanne Goulet, Waterville High School art teacher, and myself. The awards, clay vessels, were created by Carolyn Brown, Camden Hills Regional High School art teacher. In addition each educator received a plaque for their classroom and a pineapple.

The 2022 Administration/Supervision Art Educator of the Year was presented to Dr. Rachel Somerville who is at Maine College of Art & Design and Westbrook Schools. She was introduced by Melissa Perkins, Congin Elementary School art teacher, Westbrook.

Melissa presenting Rachel

The 2022 Secondary Art Educator of the year was presented to Iva Damon, art teacher at Leavitt Area High School in Turner. She was introduced by Lynda Leonas, president of MAEA and an art teacher at Walton and Washburn Elementary Schools in Auburn.

Lynda presenting Iva

The 2023 Maine Art Educator of the Year was presented to Matthew Johnson, art teacher at Westbrook High School. He was introduced by Deb Bickford who also teaches art at Westbrook High School.

Lynda Leonas presented a surprise pineapple award to Heidi for outstanding leadership and contributions to the MAEA board. She is stepping down from the board as she takes on a leadership position with the National Art Education Association.

Heidi O’Donnell, right with her Belfast colleagues Linda Nicholas, middle and Kathie Gass, left

As we move away from the challenges of the pandemic I urge you to consider:

  • Become a member of MAEA, if you are not already one
  • Volunteer to become a board member and take on a leadership role
  • Nominate a colleague who is worthy of recognition

For more information please go to the MAEA website.

Photos taken by Heidi O’Donnell and myself.

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Congratulations Sue Barre

March 17, 2022

National Federation of State High School Associations Awardee                 

In 1989 the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFSH) established The Outstanding Music Educator Awards. Waterville High School music educator Susan Barre is an awardee!

CONGRATULATIONS SUE!

Many of us know Sue’s tireless work for music education from her school district in Waterville, Maine to the state level and now at the national level. Sue teaches music to students in grades 5-12. I first met Sue when she became a Teacher Leader during Phase 3 of the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative (MAAI). She was a strong leader as MAAI transitioned to the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) and its latest iteration of the Maine Arts Education Partners in Leadership (MAEPL). Sue is a quiet and effective leader who is there when needed and is willing to take on a responsibility and give it her full attention. She can be trusted to not only to complete the task but, always at the highest level. She is a steady voice for all her students and the music education in her district continuously shines under her guidance. I’ve had the honor of working with Sue on many projects and watch her grow as a teacher, leader, and human being. We co-presented in Providence at the NAfME Eastern Division Conference in 2015 and again in 2017 in Atlantic City. This is certainly a well deserved award and I invite you to join me in CONGRATULATING SUE!

NFSH ASSOCIATION NEWS RELEASE

In addition to earning numerous awards and honors, Susan Barre has transformed Maine’s Waterville school music program to one of the state’s most respected, celebrating music and students of all abilities and interests.

After beginning her education career in 1989 and teaching music at various schools in Maine, Barre joined Waterville Public Schools in 2008 as band director for grades 5-12. In 2014, Barre was named department chair for Visual and Performing Arts at Waterville Senior High School and coordinator of music for grades K-12. During her tenure, Waterville students have consistently been recognized with Outstanding Music Awards.

In 2013, Waterville Ensembles were recognized with the “Spirit of DC” award recognizing responsible and respectful behavior. At the 2018 NYC Heritage Music Festival, the Waterville Music Department won the Sweepstakes Award for outstanding music department, and the concert and jazz band earned Gold Awards.

Barre has worked to revise the music curriculum, seeking consistency in music terms and practices, and coordinated the development and implementation of a portfolio for music students. The portfolio has become a blueprint for many other music programs in the state.

Locally, the Waterville music program has become an integral part of the arts community, recognized for its efficient hosting of local festivals each year. Waterville students regularly perform in the community and are active in the arts programs at nearby Colby College.

At the state level, Barre is a [past] president of the Maine Music Educators, which helped implement a paid executive director position for the organization and moved the state’s jazz programs from a competitive format to a festival format, where ensembles perform for a rating and not against each other. Barre is also president of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) Eastern Division and served on the executive committee overseeing the planning and implementation of the 2021 Eastern Division Virtual Festival and Conference.

Sue Barre and Argy Nestor co-presenting, NAfME Eastern Division Conference, Atlantic City, 2017. Session: Leading a Way to Proficiency Through the Arts
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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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Jazz All-State

June 24, 2021

Performance

This is a letter from Sandra Barry, President of the Maine Music Educators Association (MMEA) sharing the recording from the Maine All State Jazz Choir singing Just the Two of Us.

Dear Jazz All-State Musicians, Parents, Educators and Guests;


The Maine Music Educators Association is thrilled to present the 2020-21 Jazz All-State Festival! This performance represents a great opportunity for some of Maine’s finest high school jazz musicians to come together as ensembles and work with highly regarded jazz educators and musicians from across the United States. 

In this year of all years, the vital importance of music in our lives could not be more obvious. Great performances and favorite pieces buoy our spirits, inspire, and soothe us. Before the wonderful performances come the work. The hours of practice, preparation and effort from each individual is an accomplishment unto itself, but goes largely unseen and unheard. To our musicians and the people who support them, we thank you. We know the work is challenging, and the time and self-discipline to prepare is difficult to find. This year, you also faced isolation, technical hurdles and perhaps limited access to your teachers and peers. You did it anyway. You are a unique group of musicians who can be proud of the inclusion you earned in Maine Jazz All-State 2021. 

Planning for this yearly event begins as the final notes sound at the concert, led by Jazz Vice President Matt Waite of Millinocket. Matt’s vision, attention to detail and thorough planning has set the stage for an outstanding student (and teacher!) experience. We are so appreciative, Matt!  Special recognition goes to Instrumental Jazz Chair Becky Mallory and Managers Kyle Smith, Honors Jazz Band, Michelle Snow, SATB Jazz Choir, Pat Michaud, Jazz Combo and Mike Sakash, Jazz Band.

Before the actual festival, students prepare audition materials. An audition is like no other experience, and this year students and teachers alike had to shift to an online format. Brian Hutchinson, Auditions Chair and retired music educator from Winslow, worked all summer on behalf of MMEA to learn and modify an entirely new platform. Brian’s persistence, technical ability and background as a music educator resulted in an opportunity for over 1,000 students to  audition for state and district events this year. Brian also assembled and supported the adjudicators who heard each audition. This would not have been possible without you, Brian!  

Normally, the festival host would have put in countless hours of effort. This year our host was the internet, corralled and controlled by Webmaster Adam Metzler of Mars Hill. Adam ensured that we had Zoom Rooms galore, and provided great technical advice and expertise. Thank you, Adam!    
At every step of the way, assisting us all is MMEA Executive Director Beth LaBrie. Whether it be ordering music, delivering T-shirts or answering the endless questions, Beth guides MMEA  in all manner of details, big and small. Kudos Beth!

This festival exists because of the need to create, perform and experience music. Join me in thanking Maine’s music educators for their efforts to inspire, instruct and guide our students, culminating in this event we witness today.  Their work in these unprecedented times is nothing short of heroic. 

Finally, we thank you–parents, guardians, family, friends and community members. Your support of these musicians is a crucial factor in their success. Continue to support music education for all in any way you can. Our children need and deserve robust and exemplary music programs and opportunities throughout the state of Maine.   

Sincerely, 
Sandy

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How We See Now

June 23, 2021

Brunswick High School Exhibit

How We See Now, New Dimensions of Photography is an exhibit of works by Brunswick High School photography students hosted by Brunswick Public Art and Merrymeeting Plaza. The work seeks to question how photography can be used to visualize new realities. Students worked with the Portland artist Justin Levesque, One Dynamic System, in a virtual visiting artist residency sponsored by a grant from the Maine Department of Education with support from the Maine Arts Commission. Deconstructed and reconstructed photographic images allowed students to question our perception of reality. Photographs become manipulated into new imagery utilizing digital tools such as Googles Poly and Photopea. Come drive by this window exhibit in Brunswick at 147 Bath Road next to Peppers Landing. The work will be on exhibit from June through August.

 

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APPLY now!

June 21, 2021

Deadline tomorrow for MAEPL

Curious about the Maine Arts Commission (MAC) program, Maine Arts Education Partners in Leadership (MAEPL)? Wonder why you should consider applying? Listen to arts educator and veteran MAEPL Teacher Leader Charlie Johnson at THIS LINK explain his reasons and the benefits that he’s experienced during his ten years of participation!

DEADLINE TO APPLY IS TOMORROW, JUNE 22, 2021! DON’T DELAY!

DETAILS – THIS LINK

APPLICATION – THIS LINK

DOWNLOAD THE BROCHURE that contains all the information you need!

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Great Opportunity

June 18, 2021

What are you doing July 27-28?

Interested in getting together with other Maine Arts Educators and Teaching Artists? Learn more about Maine Arts Education Partners in Leadership (MAEPL) and consider applying to attend the summer institute and become a Teacher Leader or Teaching Artist Leader for the 2021-22 school year.

At the Summer Institute new Teacher Leaders and Teaching Artist Leaders will learn foundational practices in instructional design and leadership skills. Participants will take part in a variety of workshops focused on emerging needs in Arts Education professional development.  

Collaboration, networking, and the sharing of resources are an expectation as a member of the MAEPL community.  During the Institute participants will develop an individualized growth plan that will be shared with others for feedback and suggestions.  

Throughout the school year, participants will continue to share how their individualized growth plan is developed and implemented, and they will have the opportunity to share at a Critical Friends Day, and with a thought partner.        

There is a Winter Retreat with participants to review and reflect on the work done, and allow for time to get feedback to plan for the next Summer Institute.  

Listen to Teacher Leader Kris Bisson talk about her experiences being involved with MAEPL

Teacher Leader/Teaching Artist Leader Annual Expectations: 

  • Attend Summer Institute 
  • Work with a thought partner 
  • Develop a individualized growth plan 
  • Share the outcomes of your individual growth plan within the MAEPL community and beyond (i.e. workshop, resource, video, article, etc.) 
  • Share feedback and information about MAEPL through teacher leader stories and as part of your outcomes of your personal growth plan 
  • Collaborate, network, and share resources 
  • Participate in Critical Friend Day 
  • Attend Winter Retreat

Teacher Leader/Teaching Artist Leader Opportunities: 

  • Membership in the vibrant MAEPL community
  • Access to online resources 
  • Learn/Experience creative activities together 
  • Collaboratively develop educational resources 
  • Establish and work toward an individualized growth plan
  • Take on leadership and facilitator roles in MAEPL, Arts Organizations, and school communities 
  • Connect and make long-lasting relationships with other arts educators  
  • Network across diverse arts disciplines 
  • Access cutting edge professional development for emerging needs of our students and leaders within the arts educational community and beyond
  • Learn from experienced leaders 
  • Gain recertification hours 
  • Partner with the Maine Arts Commission Arts Education Program 

JOIN US!  Become a Teacher Leader and Change Lives.  

APPLY TODAY — CLICK HERE  June 22, 2021 deadline for new and returning applicants

IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW: 

SUMMER INSTITUTE

Pilgrim Lodge is a camp run by the United Church of Christ of Maine on Lake Cobbosseecontee in West Gardiner, with cabins with electricity and plumbing, large indoor and outdoor meeting spaces, modern dining facilities, wifi in main buildings and good general cell reception, and recreation options, including swimming, human-powered boating, and trails.  

APPLICATION

Administrator Name/contact information

Paragraph of Interest — Selected individuals will be expected to be active leaders in helping to develop and support excellence in teaching and learning in Maine. A full commitment to the Institute timeline is expected as seen in the online information sheet.  Please attach a brief overview of your interest and current/past experience (if any) in Leadership. Include your experience collaborating with other arts educators and experiences relevant to the initiative.  (Please no more than ~ 500 words, about 1 page.) 

Resume/CV —  If you are a Teaching Artist, please also include websites or documentation of your teaching work.  

Letter of Reference – TEACHERS: This should be from your administrator.  TEACHING ARTISTS: This should be from a school or community  organization with whom you have worked.   Please attach a Letter of Recommendation in which the person includes comments and/or examples reflecting your leadership potential and your ability to work collaboratively.  Selected individuals will be responsible for sharing their newly developed expertise and related classroom experiences with other arts educators.

Questions? Contact Maine Arts Commission Director of Education, Martha Piscuskas at Martha.Piscuskas@maine.gov.

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