On Sunday, May 2, Julia’s Gallery for Young Artists at the Farnsworth Art Museum will open “A Bird’s Eye View: Journeying through 21st Century Climate Change,” a multimedia, interdisciplinary, collaborative exhibition exploring the intersection of art and science through the eyes of 35 students from the Matinicus Island School, Julia’s Gallery for Young Artists and Unity College. The exhibition will be celebrated with a free opening reception from 3 to 5 p.m.

This show, which will remain on display through Aug. 29, marks the culmination of a seven-month program uniting students from kindergarten through college in the exploration of birds, migration and climate change. During the exhibition, Julia’s Gallery for Young Artists will be open Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. in May and June; and Wednesdays through Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. in July and August. Julia’s Gallery is located on the corner of Union and Elm streets. “A Bird’s Eye View” is supported by generous donations from Barbara and Peter McSpadden, the Overbrook Foundation and photographer Joyce Tenneson.

“A Bird’s Eye View” aims to raise awareness about local bird species, climate change and the connection between the two, all while bridging the gap between art and science, said Meara Cafferata, Julia’s Gallery co-teen coordinator, student artist and a senior at Camden Hills Regional High School. The inspiration for the exhibit dates back to early October 2009 when the Matinicus Island students and their teacher Heather Wells had the opportunity to visit Metinic Island to photo-document the fall songbird migration with Brian Benedict of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Adrienne Leppold of the University of Maine.

Under the guidance of mentor photographer Charlotte Dixon of Maine Media Workshops, the students captured the scientific process and learned about migration in the field.

In the weeks to follow, the elementary and middle school students from the one-room schoolhouse photographed songbird habitat, food sources and a bird skeleton found on Matinicus Island, capturing bugs, berries, brush and bones in digital format, all of which are on view at the exhibit.

The photographs and spirited enthusiasm of the Matinicus students served as the catalyst for the program’s expansion in January. Nine high school students from Julia’s Gallery and 20 students from Unity College signed on to participate. The college students worked on the project for academic credit through an environmental citizen class, The Art of Exhibits, with Cindy Thomashow and mentor artist Ben Potter. In workshops, classroom settings and field trips in all three locations over four months, the 35 students from kindergarten to college collaborated with mentor artists and scientists to learn about and creatively respond to six local bird species, their local habitats, their migration patterns and destinations; and global environmental impacts on bird behavior.

The Julia’s Gallery and Unity College students designed the exhibition layout. In the weeks leading up to the opening, the 35 students worked side-by-side and remotely, individually and in teams, to create the mixed media, interactive display of photographs, sculptures, drawings, stories, video and maps.

“Collaborating with the Matinicus Island School and Unity College students was exciting and dynamic. The Unity students were full of ideas, information and enthusiasm and those from Matinicus Island were quick and intelligent, showing maturity beyond their years and an excitement that was infectious and full of optimism,” said Sarah Streat, Julia’s Gallery student artist and staff member and a Camden Hills senior.

One of the most engaging aspects of the program and resulting exhibit was the challenge of how to communicate scientific principles in aesthetic, creative works of art. Abie Sullivan, an environmental science student at Unity College, said it was exciting to have the chance to combine everything from crazy, abstract birds to fairly complex scientific information about rising sea levels and see how the science and art complemented each other. Her classmate Candice Blodgett, a captive wildlife care and education major, said the art of stewardship conveys the idea and message of stewardship and principles of science through art, not scientific language.

“There needs to be a balance between the visual, emotional and intellectual expression to draw people in and make them feel connected to, and responsible for, their environment,” Blodgett said.

“A Bird’s Eye View” is an energetic, questing and probing exhibit that exemplifies the goals of Julia’s Gallery, which aims to expand awareness, using arts-integration and student-centered initiatives to inspire, provoke and inform the public.

“I hope that visitors leave ‘A Bird’s Eye View’ with more questions than they had upon entering … The planet needs as many educated individuals as possible, but even more so, it needs people who are willing to take action,” said Tessa Isis-Bahoosh, a Julia’s Gallery student artist and sophomore at the Watershed School.

For more information about “A Bird’s Eye View” or other programs of Julia’s Gallery, contact Rachel Nixon at 596-6457, ext. 146 or rachel@farnsworthmuseum.org.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail to dernest@villagesoup.com.