“Guardians,” a visual poem about the keepers of our land, will open Friday, June 4, at Maine Farmland Trust Gallery, 97 Main St. In tandem with the city’s First Friday Art Walk 5-8 p.m. June 4, Maine Farmland Trust Gallery is welcoming the public for a celebratory opening of the new group show that features paintings, sculptures, photographs, collagraph prints and multimedia books.

Seven Maine artists from Portland to Eastport are participating in the show, as well as 13 students and their art teacher from the Mount View Elementary School in Thorndike.

The dictionary defines “guardian” as a keeper, a person who guards, protects or preserves.

“Guardians” aims to create a visual statement about the real and imagined keepers of our land, said Anna Abaldo, gallery coordinator for Maine Farmland Trust.

“It’s been very exciting reigning in the different artists for this show and picking the particular artworks to create a poetic suggestion about ‘guardians’ of the land. The art in this exhibit represents both mythical, archetypal figures from folklore and our collective imagination; and everyday farmers as being those incarnated ‘guardians’ in this lifetime,” she said.

To achieve the desired effect of a visual and poetic narrative, Abaldo has placed vastly different pieces of artwork in a small space, each commenting on the central theme from a particular angle. Visitors will “meet” the late Scott Nearing up close, as photographed by Lynn Karlin, and can then turn to contemplate the richly symbolic paintings of artists Judith Olson and Christina DeHoff. Everyday moments on the farm are captured aesthetically by photographers Georges Nashan and Dina Petrillo, as they frame the daily rituals of those who tend to the crops and creatures. Elizabeth Fraser, a daily painter from the Portland area, has taken her easel and paints to farms and farmers’ markets. Elizabeth Ostrander’s sculptures, on the other hand, speak of a world of myth and dreamtime, where the connection between human and nature is palpable, if not indisputable.

Learning to be guardians are the students from Mount View Elementary. Under the wing of their art teacher Kelly Desrosiers, the students researched the interplay of sun, soil, water, air, plants and animals and created multimedia “Earthbooks” reflecting what they learned. Thirteen of these books will be on display, as well as a digital video documenting this inspiring interdisciplinary project.

“We are growing a new crop of stewards in our children, who will create our future, hopefully with deep appreciation for nature and their own role as co-creators,” said Desrosiers.

“Guardians” will run through July 13. Maine Farmland Trust Gallery is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and, during July and August, Fridays from 5 to 8 p.m. for the weekly Belfast Art Walks. The gallery is located in the front office of Maine Farmland Trust, a statewide non-profit organization working to permanently preserve and protect Maine’s agricultural lands, and to keep Maine’s farms farming. For more information, visit mainefarmlandtrust.org or call 338-6575.

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