Camden Hills, Palermo students take part

Midcoast part of UMA’s ‘Collaborative Portrait’

Jan 14, 2014
Courtesy of: Carolyn Brown Students in Carolyn Brown’s drawing classes at Camden Hills Regional High School contributed some 40 squares to UMA’s “Collaborative Portrait Project: Farmers’ Edition.” Pictured is a square by Sam Ellis.

Augusta — Art students from nine high schools, including Camden Hills Regional High School; Palermo Consolidated School; and a group of Whitefield homeschoolers spent the first half of their school year working on seemingly abstract works that will come together to form images of Maine farmers, thanks to the “Collaborative Portrait Projects: Farmers’ Edition” exhibit opening Thursday, Jan. 16, at the University of Maine at Augusta.

The resulting 10 large-scale portraits of Maine organic farmers will be assembled and unveiled during a 5 to 7 p.m. reception Jan. 16 in the Danford Gallery, located in UMA’s Jewett Hall. A farmers market will be held on site during the reception.

Each portrait began with a black and white photograph by Allison McKeen of Gardiner that was enlarged to a 4-by-4 foot square and then divided into a grid of 36 8-inch squares. Each square was given to a student to create his or her own artistic interpretation of it using various multimedia techniques. At the start of the reception, the squares will be put back together to create the portraits.

“When it gets assembled up on the board, a magic happens. The individual pieces come together to form more than the sum of their parts,” said Susan Bickford, adjunct art professor at UMA and a driving force behind the project.

The project allowed students to experience the transformative power of assembly and offered an opportunity to incorporate civic lessons into art techniques and vice versa, Bickford said. The exhibit, which will run through Feb. 21, is part of an effort to maintain the value of local school art education and connect to the greater community outside of the classroom.

“In an era where public school art budgets are declining, it is critically important for university faculty to help public schools provide valuable arts education for all Maine students. UMA is committed to doing this,” said Gregory Fahy, Dean of UMA’s College of Arts and Sciences.

In addition to Camden Hills and Palermo Consolidated, schools involved are Cony, Gardiner Area, Lewiston, Maranacook Community, Winslow, Winthrop and Wiscasset high schools.

Danforth Gallery is open Mondays through Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Admission is free. The exhibition will travel after this debut showing.

One of the finished portraits depicts the farmers of Crescent Run in Bremen. (Courtesy of: Carolyn Brown)
(Artwork by: Parker/Camden Hills)
(Artwork by: Gabrielle Anders/Camden Hills)
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Dagney C. Ernest
A&E editor for Courier Publications, LLC
(207) 594-4401/4407, ext. 115
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Dagney has been providing Courier coverage of the local arts scene since 1985 and has helmed the multi-paper A&E section since it debuted in 2003. She has been a local performing artist, community and professional, for almost 30 years and spent a decade writing, producing and announcing on-air for several Midcoast radio stations. When not in the NewsNest, Dagney likes to be in motion.

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