Next week, our MFA students will return to Rockport for the second of two annual retreats. It's always thrilling for us to see how their projects evolve after months of synthesizing feedback from mentors, instructors, and peers. Equally exciting is the addition of this term's guest faculty members, fine art photographer Connie Imboden and documentary cinematographer Bestor Cram. Both bring rich and divergent skill sets to share with this cohort of artists, who represent a similarly diverse range of talents and interests. Bringing these photographers, filmmakers, and multimedia artists together for a week of intense learning is a catalyst for fresh creative insight, and it's something our students often credit for pushing their work to the next level.

Led by our core MFA faculty members who work with candidates throughout the year, our retreats always feature a new pair of guest faculty members to provide fresh professional perspective on both photography and filmmaking. These interdisciplinary conversations are often some of the most powerful elements of the retreat. Connie, for example, explained how much she appreciates a filmmaker's perspective of photography. "I love hearing from a filmmaker's point of view about composition in a still image because they think about it differently than still photographers," Connie explained. "Their concerns with time, movement, and what happens next are reflected in their attention to composition."
Bestor added that when it comes to filmmaking, bringing in different perspectives is also just a sign of the

 times, since technology has opened filmmaking to a wide variety of new participants. "Filmmakers today are musicians, rock climbers, graphic artists, skate boarders, painters, linguists, photographers, soldiers, writers, divers, cooks, teachers - the list is endless," he said. "What has happened is a uniting of many interests into the common goal of visual storytelling."
Connie and Bestor are representative of the caliber of talent that lead our MFA retreats, a key component to this three-year, low-residency program. Like them, our core faculty members and mentorsare accomplished professionals and internationally recognized luminaries active in their artistic practices. With students working independently and guided from afar for much of the year, face time with these master artists takes on a heightened significance and results in creatively powerful days for the students.

MFA candidate Anna LaBenz is a photographer who had specialized in self-portraits and landscapes before seeking out our program. Since then, she has branched out to sound scape, prints-on-fabric installations, and unconventional book forms. "For years I fought my instinctual impulses because they did not fit with the work I saw beingmade by my peers," Anna said. "After starting the program my mentor advised me to go out and respond to the world around me, to let my camera show the way. My work has evolved from prints on a wall to beautiful installations that feel like compartments of memory." Anna said working with high-caliber artists from different disciplines has not only pushed her to try new things, but has also given her work more spark and breadth. "Having artists from different genres working together creates an inspirational, exciting, and creative environment," Anna said. "It breaks down the barriers that different genres can put up around themselves, allowing for greater exploration."
Connie also noted that just as photographers can benefit from a filmmaker's critique, the reverse is also true. "For me, the challenge of critiquing a film can be exciting in seeing how my own visual sensitivities translate to a different medium, and how we each have the opportunity to transcend the limitations of our different disciplines to broaden our outlooks," she explained.
That is the spirit behind the retreat, Bestor says, to broaden horizons and push artists into new frontiers that are now more open for exploration than ever before. "Our world is no longer linear but involves often interactive non-linear storytelling, bringing our audience into our storytelling space to participate, not just consume," he said. "We never stop cooking with new recipes. We are hungry for more than food. And we are starved for new ways to prepare it."
All images © Mark Edward Dawson

How do you launch into the film industry in less than one year? Start with a focused program 
that covers everything you need to know and nothing more.  Add the same cutting-edge equipment found in the major studios, and bring award-winning filmmakers to teach and mentor. The bonus of this brand new Certificate in Collaborative Filmmaking? You get to do it all in Midcoast Maine.
With major studio and independent films to his credit, writer/director Wayne Beach has been in the film industry for more than two decades. In addition to writing screenplays for industry giants like Warner Bros., Twentieth Century Fox, Disney, and Sony, he has developed projects for the makers of Pirates of the Caribbean, Law & Order, The Fugitive, Seven, Ocean's Eleven, Platoon, The Matrix, and The Perfect Storm. And since he's also an instructor whose students have gone on to write, produce, and direct hit films and TV shows, it's hard to imagine someone better suited to teach part of a brand new curriculum designed to provide an accelerated route into the business. 
MMW+C Film Program Director Tawny Bradley sought input from seasoned professionals, including Wayne, to craft the Certificate in Collaborative Filmmaking, our newest certificate program that provides a fast track to building the skills needed in today's film industry. "Two decades into my career, I can say that this is the foundation I would have loved to have had when I started out on this journey," said Wayne. Launching this month, CCF is accepting applications now for the 30-week program that begins in late March. 
For recent college graduates or career-changers with limited time to invest, CCF is a more focused alternative to a traditional four-year college experience. It's also a great fit for independent filmmakers looking to broaden their skill set. "The film industry is incredibly competitive," says Wayne. "This program gives students an intense and fast-paced advantage. The only other way to learn like this is to spend years on the job."
Led by Tawny Bradley, who, prior to coming to MMW+C, worked for the UK government-funded agency responsible for designing the qualifications necessary for students to be deemed ready for work in creative media, the nine-month program immerses students in the creative and technical dynamics of filmmaking, and culminates in a finished collaborative film project. 
The first 10 weeks quickly engage students in making films and building their skills in visual storytelling. The term provides solid grounding in screenwriting, directing, pre-production, cinematography, sound design, editing, and post-production. In addition to exploring topics as practical as on-set vernacular, how to communicate with crew and talent, and set etiquette, students also learn how to market themselves as freelancers, shape and pitch a project, and make their skills stand out in a crowd. 
The second term takes place during the summer workshop period, when MMW is a hive of creative energy and crawling with talented instructors. Students choose ten workshops from a range of options, allowing them to specialize and deepen their understanding of filmmaking's key dynamics under the guidance of masters. "Our workshops are taught by the highest caliber of film professionals," says Tawny. "A person could spend a decade on Hollywood sets and not have the level of access to talent that we have here in Maine." With courses taught by cinematographers like Russell Carpenter ASC (Titanic, Charlie's Angels, Ant-Man) and Steven Fierberg ASC (Entourage, The Affair, Love & Other Drugs), sound mixers like Mark Ulano (Kill Bill Vol. 1 &2, Inglorious Bastards, Django Unchained), editors like Chris Nelson ACE (Lost, Bates Motel, Mad Men), and gaffers like Mo Flam (Black Swan, I Am Legend, Meet the Parents), nine months in Maine just got more interesting. 
In the final term, CCF students will focus their efforts on production and post-production phases of their collaborative film projects, choosing leading roles as writer/directors, cinematographers, or editors, and working closely with mentors along the way. "Guided by accomplished professionals? In a hands-on, cutting-edge environment?  Leaving with a portfolio in one year?  Gold," said Beach.

It's been a rewarding time to be in touch with last year's graduates of our Professional Certificate in Visual Storytelling program. Between following along with the drama of the round-the-world Volvo sailing race to news of Emmy awards, we couldn't be prouder of the way our alumni are putting their skills to work.

Fiona Chong came to us from Singapore at the start of the 2013-2014 PC term. Originally intending to focus her studies on historic photographic processes, Fiona found herself particularly drawn to a video project guided by Instructor Chris Lehmann. As part of her course work, Fiona worked with Chris to produce a short video about the development of a "Wizard of Oz" museum here in Midcoast Maine. Their 5-minute interstitial is an exploration of some of the 100,000 Oz-related items that will inhabit the museum, as well as a fascinating view of the cultural and creative impact of this timeless American story. This spring, they were awarded a Boston/New England Emmy for Best Interstitial. 

Our PCVS program was developed for students like Fiona, who know that relying on a single skill set as a media professional is often not enough. Today's visual storytellers need to be comfortable working across media platforms, and convey their stories effectively to a wide range of audiences. "This is 30-weeks of fast-paced learning," said instructor Chris Lehmann. "It is a blend of employing creativity and learning new technical skills to help students bring traditional storytelling into a visual, digital realm.

Corinna Halloran was also among the 2014 PCVS cohort. Hailing from Newport, Rhode Island, Corinna sought out our program with a singular mission: to gain the interdisciplinary skills necessary to win a coveted spot as on-board reporter for a sailing vessel in the elite Volvo Ocean Race. On-board reporters are expected to shoot stills, video, and write regular blog posts, all while enduring the same grueling conditions as the rest of the boat's crew. Shortly before graduating from our program, Corinna learned that she had won a spot with Team SCA. As a member of the all-female team, Corinna spent nine months documenting the daily challenges faced by the crew, logging more than 38,000 miles at sea. Emailing us from an early shake-down trip, Corinna said "I feel so prepared having done the PC program. Everything I learned there prepared me 110%."  

Students participating in the Professional Certificate program also get steeped in MMW+C's specialty: the very rare blending of historical photography alongside the state-of-the-art techniques that help students develop their unique visual voice. Classes offer the ability to study alternative processes, fine art and documentary photography, as well as digital still and video techniques that are important in every visual storyteller's career.

The program is typically taught to relatively small, intimate groups, providing intense hands-on training tailored to each student's goals. There is no guarantee that you will win an Emmy or participate in the world's most challenging sailing contest. But you might. "At the end of the day, I think it is really a case of how much you want to make out of the program. The more effort you put in, the more you learn," Fiona said. "You reap what you sow."



Our Exquisite Corpse art sale fundraiser was a smashing success, raising more than $73,000 in support of MMW+C. Our heartfelt thanks go out to the 167 artists who donated their time and talents to our efforts by creating unique collaborative pieces for the sale or by participating in the book and film projects. We also want to thank our generous sponsors, who helped make the night so magical. 

For those of you who could not attend the event, ten amazing exquisite corpses are now available for online purchase. Many of these are pieces created by the instructors you all know and love, including Craig StevensCig HarveyKeith CarterJean Miele, and Sean Kernan. See the complete list HERE, or stop by our Rockport gallery to see them in person.

Our book and film projects were also unveiled at the Exquisite Corpse event. You can see a slideshow of the book's 100 images as well as the strange and fun little film that a few brave faculty and alumni made below. Stop by our campus or gallery to buy the book, or CLICK HERE send us an email about making a purchase if you aren't nearby.

More images from the event can be found on our facebook page!

Check out this slideshow of images from our Exquisite Corpse book. 100 of you participated in the making of it.

Here is our zany Exquisite Corpse film, made 15 seconds at a time!

We are proud to announce the first recipients of our Book Artist in Residence awards. These are the first artists in residence at Maine Media’s new Book Arts Studio, which opened in 2014.

The winners are Valerie Ann Carrigan, a print and artist-books maker in North Adams, Mass., and Richard Reitz Smith, an award-winning artist and designer living in Camden, Maine. Thanks to Maine Media’s generous donors, they will receive a stipend and materials support for their six-week residencies that will take place this fall.

“We are so delighted that these two talented artists will be our first artists-in-residence,” said Elizabeth Greenberg, Maine Media’s vice president of academic affairs. “There has been increasing interest in the Book Arts program and having this daily activity in the studio will not only add a dynamic element to the other activities happening around the campus, but also increase opportunities for our students and members of the community to engage with the Book Arts program.”

An afternoon drawing and photographing milkweed pods at Natural Bridges State Park in North Adams, Massachusetts, inspired Carrigan’s project, “The Walk.” Her monotype prints of the pods in various stages of life and decay will appear in a design based on a flag book, but with single panels that are attached to a concertina fold, extending outward when the book is stretched open.

Richard Reitz Smith has been a fan of some of the best children’s writers for decades. He plans to combine printed layers of letterpress words and images with gelatin prints and color washes to create a poetic and magical experience through a small, limited-edition book suitable for adults and children.

These two artists faced rigorous competition. But these two proposals particularly impressed the panel of well-known artists and professionals in the field of book arts that served as judges. Jurors included Cig Harvey, Liv Rockefeller, Daniel Kelm, Charles Altschul, Elizabeth Greenberg, Ashley Craig, and Meg Weston. 

The artist-in-residence program is an exciting addition to the book arts facility that was created through generous donor support. In 2014 Maine Media renovated the ground floor of the Ernst Haas Building building the new Book Arts Studio that is equipped with exceptional book arts tools, including Vandercook presses and bindery equipment. The studio is adjacent to our newly renovated Alternative Process laboratory, which allows students to be learn 19th century historic photographic techniques including tintype, collodion, gum bichromate, and calotype.  Consistent with our interest in honoring historic processes alongside the latest technological innovations, these studios capitalize on resurging interest in hands on processes. 

We've received more than a few strange looks and comments in response to hearing about our upcoming art sale fundraiser. When asked to participate, one of our instructors said, "Uhm, I'm not really into death." We understand. Exquisite Corpse is a weird name for a fundraiser. But we guarantee that you will never forget it. We also guarantee that you will never forget the art you will see at this sale, because these pieces, made especially for this event, can't be found anywhere else.


Exquisite Corpse is not about dead people. It's an artistic process that celebrates creative collaboration. Fueled by absinthe and the new vision of the French Surrealists, Exquisite Corpse was a popular parlor game in the early 1920s that brought friends together to create a single story, song, or drawing. In most forms of the game, only a portion of what one artist created could be seen by the others, resulting in strange, surprising, and even profound creations. We've taken this concept as the theme for our art sale because creative collaboration is at the heart of everything we do. We also wanted to see what amazing things our instructors could create when they worked together.


Late last year we shared our idea with photographer Sean Kernan, and in April he came to Rockport to lead a special invitational workshop for a group of eight artists representing a wide range of creative disciplines. Called Reviving the Exquisite Corpse, Sean's workshop quickly set about interrupting the artists' creative habits to provoke new ways of seeing and thinking. Artists paired up by pulling names out of a hat, and were instructed to work in areas outside of their normal artistic practice. "The art flowed from a sense of freedom to stretch into completely new forms," said painter Alan Crichton about his week of collaboration with photographer Jean Miele. "My connection with Jean was immediate and light, but we also talked deeply about family and friendship and trust, both in ourselves and in each other. It was a pretty extraordinary experience." 


Ranging from handmade books nesting within a custom wooden case to poetry layered with still life compositions on gunpowder drawings, the work showcases an astonishing range of talents that these artists are able to draw from. Despite never having worked together before, each pair created work that surprised us in its depth. "I was a little concerned going in that we might make things that looked like something we brought home to our mothers from kindergarten," said Sean. "But each pair made work that is thought-provoking, beautifully crafted, and gallery-ready. It affirmed that art arises from thought and action, not just medium and skill.


While Sean's workshop was taking place, we also invited all of our instructors to make exquisite corpses on their own. 24 of them took us up on the challenge, pairing with each other or with their friends to make unique works of art for our event. 

Watching the collaborations take shape, and now seeing the art come in

has been better than Christmas!


While several photographers collaborated on prints and diptychs, others crossed media boundaries, combining photography with painting, book arts, poetry, songwriting, and sculpture. Last week, Peter Ralston was seen waving his arms frantically outside his Rockport gallery. Painter EricHopkins had just dropped off their completed exquisite corpse, and Peter beamed like a new parent. "The best part of this project has been the challenge and the creative frisson of working with artists and friends who I respect and admire no end," said Peter. "The experience has been deeply gratifying and inspiring for all of us. I like to think the work mirrors exactly that."


In all, more than 25 original works of collaborative art will be available for purchase at Exquisite Corpse, held on June 24 in Rockport's Brewster Point Barn. We are honored to present the work of:


Sam Abell & Arthur Meyerson | John Paul Caponigro & Arduina Caponigro | Cig Harvey & David Graeme Baker | Peter Ralston & Eric Hopkins | Keith Carter & Cig Harvey | Brenton Hamilton & Shoshannah White | Jill Enfield & Connie Imboden | Eliot Dudik & Michael Draeger | Stella Johnson & Maria Michelogianni | Craig Stevens & Marcia Lippman | Jean Miele & Peter Ralston | Anneli Skaar & Abigail Stiers | Jay Gould & Kim DePaul | Jean Miele & Alan Crichton | Richard Remsen & Anastasia Weigle | Olaf Willoughby & Eileen Muldoon | Susan Bloom & Dr. Gretchen McKay | Michael Zide & Sally Taylor | Brendan Bullock & Colin Page | Kelsey Floyd & Andy Bloxham | Meg Weston & Ari Meil | Elizabeth & Howard Greenberg


In addition to these star-studded collaborations, two large-group exquisite corpse projects are still underway, and growing more fascinating by the day! Our Exquisite Corpse Book Project currently has more than 65 images, propagating the evolution of four separate visual chains lead by Sean Kernan,David LymanElizabeth Opalenik and Joyce Tenneson. Like a visual game of telephone, the chains are growing one image at a time and are very different from each other. The book will be completed in time for the Exquisite Corpse event, and will also be for sale on our website and in our galleries.

Some of our film faculty and alumni have also been working on an Exquisite Corpse Film Project. Like the book, the film is being built one piece at a time, in a series of 15-second clips. So far, it is flying its surrealist flag high. As much as we would like to tell you what it's about...we can't. Because we haven't figured it out yet! The final film will be screened for the first time at the event, and we promise you it will be very entertaining!


Please plan to join us on June 24 to see all of this inspiring work for yourself! Tickets to the event are available for purchase on our website. VIP ticket holders will have access to the VIP Reception, featuring exclusive food and drink pairings, a preview of the art for sale, and an opportunity for early purchase of select pieces. We are deeply grateful to our friends at B&H for being the lead sponsor of Exquisite Corpse, and helping us continue to bring creative minds together. Please be sure to check out the growing list of friends who are helping to make this special event possible when you BUY YOUR TICKETS

Maine Media Workshops + College announced today the receipt of a major gift that will serve as the cornerstone of our future growth plans, and reflects a trend of growing, positive momentum for this beloved center of visual storytelling education.

Through a generous matching gift from HomeFed Corporation, we now own an additional 14 acres of land adjacent to the current campus and connecting the campus directly to Route 1. It includes properties that we have previously been leasing from HomeFed such as the Campus Residence, the Windjammer Motel, and Kate’s cottage.  The donation portion of the property transfer to the college is valued at over $1 million. HomeFed’s largest shareholder is Leucadia National Corporation, which has a long history of providing financial support toward Maine Media’s mission.

The receipt of this land is integral to fulfilling a campus master plan that was completed at the direction of the Board of Directors in 2014 in alignment with the strategic plan for growth. The campus plan was developed with input from faculty, staff, the board, and with assistance and support from Elliott & Elliott Architects of Blue Hill, Maine. The goal of the plan is to upgrade existing infrastructure and seamlessly integrate new facilities. The plan is flexible, will accommodate changing needs or objectives, and will be implemented over time as resources allow.

The plan calls for those resources to go toward what will ultimately be a new home for the Young Artist programs, new housing for Young Artists on the campus, a new Media Arts and Technology Center that incorporates the existing sound stage and expands our facilities for production, post-production and large classroom space, and a handicapped-accessible Student Welcome Center, among other things. It is an ambitious vision that will be made possible, in part, by the acquisition of this contiguous property that more than doubles the size of the existing campus.

Some of our exciting growth began in 2014 as a result of generous support from donors. Last year, Maine Media renovated the ground floor of the Ernst Haas Building and created the new Book Arts Studio and Alternative Process Darkroom, paired with an inviting outdoor teaching space.  Additional gifts will allow us to host the first Book Artist in Residence this fall.

Maine Media sees the new studio — and this new gift of land — as emblematic of a series of positive trends that showcase Maine Media’s renewed growth. Maine Media has enjoyed increasing enrollment for the last three years. The number of donors to the school nearly doubled last year. And thanks to some of those generous donors, in 2014 we were able to grant more scholarships than ever before: 42 individuals received more than $60,000 in scholarships.

This latest gift of 14 valuable acres will be a linchpin for further growth, as this world-renowned visual storytelling center turns the page into a new chapter dedicated to serving talented students from Maine, across the country, and around the world in new and exciting ways. We appreciate your support for our efforts, and look forward to seeing you “under the tent” here this year!

Thanks to the many generous donors among you, we are able to offer new scholarships to deserving students this summer. Benefitting teens as well as adults, scholarships are now available for almost every program we offer, from photo and filmmaking workshops to books arts courses and long-term programs. We value the creative diversity that scholarship recipients bring to our campus, and encourage everyone who would like to come here but is hampered by the cost of tuition to apply. Many of our scholarships have an April 24 deadline, so be sure tocheck out the complete list and apply as soon as possible. 

One of our new scholarships is for women filmmakers, and is dedicated to bringing some measure of hope in the name of tragedy. Founded by cinematographer Amy Vincent, ASC, in memory of a talented camera assistant killed on the set of the now suspended feature Midnight Rider, the Spirit of Sarah Scholarship aims to give emerging women filmmakers a boost towards furthering their careers. "The loss of Sarah Jones has brought much needed awareness to safety issues on set," said Amy. "This scholarship is one small way to keep hopes and dreams alive for young women in the film industry." The Spirit of Sarah Scholarship is need and merit-based, and can be used for any one-week cinematography course over the summer session.

After attending a workshop taught by world-renowned photographer Sam Abell last summer, Skip Klein was inspired not only to pursue his photography with fresh eyes, but also to create a lasting way for others to benefit from that kind of experience. Starting with a matching grant and later expanding to include donations from 18 other alumni, Skip founded the new Sam Abell Scholarship, which provides tuition assistance for photo workshops with any of our amazing instructors. In addition, Sam Abell will make personal contact with the recipients. Now fully endowed, the merit and needs-based scholarship will provide tuition for any weeklong photo workshop at our Rockport campus for one student every year. "Sam is a talented documentary photographer in the National Geographic tradition and a natural and caring teacher," said Skip. "I can think of no better way to start honoring the wonderful faculty at Maine Media than by beginning with an endowed scholarship in honor of Sam's many talents and contributions."


One of our largest scholarship funds, targeted to Maine teens, was given a boost by new grant funds from Evergreen Foundation. We are always thrilled to see the Maine Youth Scholarship Fund thrive and grow, and especially to see the work created by the teens who spend a few transformative weeks of their summer with us. Last year this fund and others helped us provide scholarships to 16 Maine teens. We'd like to do even more. In fact, we have a goal to grow this fund so that any Maine high school student can attend a workshop here, regardless of their family's financial circumstances. 


We are also pleased to have been offered additional contributions to our  Diversity & Underprivileged Scholarship Fund by long-time alum Jack H. Klein. A video producer who has taken more than 20 film and photo workshops with us over the years, Jack sought to assist us in providing visual storytelling skills to teens from ethnically or culturally underrepresented communities. If you know of students who could benefit from spending a week or two in a creative, immersive, and supportive learning environment,we encourage you to refer them to our scholarship program.


We now have no less than 14 different scholarship opportunities listed on our website, and for that we give our very sincere thanks to the grant makers and individual donors who helped make it possible. It is hard to overstate the value of these scholarships for the recipients, the positive impact the programs have on the lives and careers of those who attend, and the contribution to the vitality of our campus that these students make. Last year those grants and gifts helped 34 students attend workshops and long-term programs. We hope to help even more this year.