Making hay into art at Craig Gallery

Sep 13, 2013
"Confluence," pictured at the art gallery of Lehman College of the City University of New York, is an example of Michael Shaughnessy’s installations.

Unity — A public opening for Michael Shaughnessy’s sculptural installation “3.2.7” will be held Friday, Sept. 20, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Leonard R. Craig Gallery in the Unity College Center for the Performing Arts, 42 Depot St. Admission to the event is free and refreshments will be available.

The exhibition will feature a site-specific construction on display outside of and within the gallery. It will run through Nov. 1. Shaughnessy has been an artist for 30 years and his work is primarily made from common hay. He has held exhibitions and installations in museums, contemporary art centers and universities across the country including such places as the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Museum, the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City and the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Massachusetts. In 2011, Shaughnessy received the William E. and Helen E. Thon Jurors’ Prize at the Portland Museum of Art Biennial.

Shaughnessy has said that each work an artist creates is a relic of the individual and culture that produced it. These works are reflective of not only the artist’s expressive intent, but also of the larger cultural ethics, aspirations and identities out of which it comes. The artist is both reflective and anticipatory of how those things are changing and evolving.

“The work in the Leonard Craig Gallery, entitled 3.2.7, is a response to the changing culture and ethic relative to our place on the earth by a response to Richard Serra’s piece ‘4.5.6’ at the Colby Museum of Art in nearby Waterville … Each speaks for its time, its location and how we are evolving relative to our common ground,” he said.

Shaughnessy was raised in Kansas City and lives in Portland. He is a long-term environmental and political activist; he is active with the Sierra Club, and was a founding board member and is currently the president of the Friends of the Presumpscot River. He has held elected office and worked as an active participant of numerous political and social change causes. Since 1987, Shaughnessy has taught drawing, design and sculpture at the University of Southern Maine. He is entrepreneurial-minded and a constant inventor and in 2001, he developed the first national program combining art and entrepreneurial studies.

In 2012, Shaughnessy set out on a 10-week journey, taking a large hay ball for a cross-country ride on a small car to meet America. The project was titled “Wonderment: The Hay Ball’s Journey Across America.” First exhibited at the Tampa Museum of Art, the ball of hay was a fixture in Portland and, during its travels across America, became a combination of performance art, sculpture and public art laced with humor and social interaction. Shaughnessy is currently writing about the adventure and the people he met along the way.

For more information, contact Ben Potter, Professor of Art/Curator of the Leonard R. Craig Gallery, at 948-9239 or

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115 or

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