Few harbingers of spring hold as much promise for us as our annual job fair and the knowledge that we'll soon be joined by a fresh new crop of seasonal staff. Every year we wonder how we get so lucky. These are seriously talented people who come from far and wide to spend their summers with us. They manage our print operations and film gear, edit the weekly slideshows and photograph behind the scenes, assist our instructors in the labs and in the field, shepherd our Young Artists as YO Mamas and YO Daddies, and make sure the bedrooms are clean and the lobsters are perfectly steamed. We already know that the new influx of talent is going to light this place up. It always does. But those who have never worked here before may not know just how much one summer at Maine Media has a way of sticking with you.
Each year we strive to provide scholarship support to more students who want to attend our programs but can't afford to. Last year we reached an important milestone. For the first time, we were able to offer financial support to every qualified scholarship applicant. Each of the 33 teens and adults who received scholarships added to the creative diversity on our campus, but perhaps none more than four quiet teenagers from the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
MMW+C Instructor Emily Schiffer first began working with Lakota teens in 2005 when she founded a photography program built on donated cameras and equipment. The dedicated darkroom housed in the local YMCA became a favorite gathering place for teens seeking a creative outlet in a community where artistic opportunities are rare. Emily also understood that providing experiences off the reservation, where the teens could meet working creative professionals, would help them visualize a future in the arts as well as a way to share their unique stories with a wider audience.
This year we had the honor of welcoming Richard Reitz-Smith and Valerie Carrigan as our first ever Book Artists in Residence. During their six-week residencies, both artists were given the opportunity to devote uninterrupted creative time to their hand-made book projects in our newly renovated studio. Watching their ideas come to life was a wonderful gift to our students and staff. Photographers, filmmakers, and writers all took advantage of their lectures and open studio policy, and the resulting cross-pollination sparked countless discussions of ideas and craft.
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.
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."
APPLICATIONS FOR OUR 2015-2016 PCVS TERM ARE BEING ACCEPTED NOW.
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 Stevens, Cig Harvey, Keith Carter, Jean 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.