Robert Shetterly: Americans Who Tell The Truth

July 2-August 31, 2019.

Painter Robert Shetterly’s portraits and narratives highlight citizens who courageously address issues of social, environmental, and economic fairness. A selection of his work is featured in the Blum Gallery from July 2–August 31. Join Shetterly for the closing reception of the show on August 22. 

Paul K. Chappell

Robert Shetterly was born in 1946 in Cincinnati, Ohio. He graduated in 1969 from Harvard College with a degree in English Literature. At Harvard he took some courses in drawing which changed the direction of his creative life – from the written word to the image. Also, during this time, he was active in Civil Rights and in the Anti-Vietnam War movement. After college and moving to Maine in 1970, he taught himself drawing, printmaking, and painting. While trying to become proficient in printmaking and painting, he illustrated widely. For twelve years he did the editorial page drawings forThe Maine Times newspaper, illustrated National Audubon’s children’s newspaper Audubon Adventures, and approximately 30 books.

Shetterly´s paintings and prints are in collections all over the U.S. and Europe. A collection of his drawings & etchings, “Speaking Fire at Stones,” was published in 1993. He is well known for his series of 70 painted etchings based on William Blake’s “Proverbs of Hell,” and for another series of 50 painted etchings reflecting on the metaphor of the Annunciation.

Sherri Mitchell

His painting has tended toward the narrative and the surreal, however, for more than ten years he has been painting the series of portraits “Americans Who Tell the Truth.” The exhibit has been traveling around the country since 2003. Venues have included everything from university museums and grade school libraries to sandwich shops, the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City, and the Superior Court in San Francisco. To date, the exhibits have visited 26 states. In 2005, Dutton published a book of the portraits by the same name. In 2006, the book won the top award of the International Reading Association for Intermediate non-fiction.

The portraits have given Shetterly an opportunity to speak with children and adults all over this country about the necessity of dissent in a democracy, the obligations of citizenship, sustainability, US history, and how democracy cannot function if politicians don’t tell the truth, if the media don’t report it, and if the people don’t demand it.

Image Credits: Robert Shetterly

Senior Project: Through Our Art: Discussing Domestic Violence and Body Autonomy - An artistic approach for Syrian Women in Refugee SettlementsMoni Ayoub ’19

May 24-26, 2019.

Through Our Art involves three interdependent parts. I designed an art curriculum, in English and Arabic, named “Through Our Art: An Art Curriculum for Women in Syrian Refugee Settlements” to encourage discussion regarding domestic violence and body autonomy. I then returned to Lebanon for a month and a half to implement the curriculum in a Syrian refugee settlement in the village of Nakhlé in Northern Lebanon.

Through our Art - printmaking


What happens when we put our theories to action? Do we adapt our preconceived agendas to suit the changing reality of the community we engage with? What are our assumptions of other people and places? What are our assumptions of what other communities need? How do we carry and share experiences across borders? Why do we do what we do? How do we do what we do?

I worked with two groups: girls ages 10 to 17, and mothers ages 20 to 50.  Trial and error and the challenge of implementation of my curriculum was more important to me than the curriculum itself. The following is in hopes to bring all these experiences together and across borders.

Through Our Art, Moni Ayoub'19

Moni Ayoub ’19

Photo Credit: Micheal Jacoby ’19

Senior Project:  Post Morphean Dreamwork, by Alexandrea Farquhar ’19

I have always been subject to very vivid dreams, often involving animals, usually in strange situations. Each piece represented in Post Morphean Dreamwork is a dream image: looking down and realizing my bare foot is sprouting mushrooms, walking through a gallery and seeing a fox that is really an instrument with golden strings, meeting a companion that is part bird, part something else to guide my dreaming journey, catching a silvery fawn in a meadow, or finding a tiger asleep on the end of my bed. The term dreamwork is most often associated with Carl Jung and refers to the engagement of a dreamer with the secondary material and structure of a dream: the dream’s underlying nature. It is that forgotten nature which stalks the corners of our waking hours, challenging us with both unexpected danger and overwhelming beauty.

Read more…

Alexandrea Farquhar

Senior Project: Marine Worms: Stories and Images from a Little Known Fisheryby Kaitlyn Clark ’19

May 12-15, 2019

Mount Desert Diggers

Along Maine’s coastal mudflats, commercial marine worm diggers seek out bloodworms and sandworms destined for use as fishing bait by recreational anglers near and far. You may never have seen either of these species, as they spend most of their existence buried in the mud, hidden from sight. But for Maine’s marine worm harvesters, these two species represent a thriving livelihood, making up the fifth most valuable fishery in the state and providing seasonal or full-time income for over 700 fishermen.

Before I started interviewing marine worm harvesters, I had many questions. How do harvesters find these worms and harvest them from the mud? What gear do they use? How has the industry changed over time? What can this industry tell us about how the environment is shifting along the coast? After 20 interviews, I have some answers, more questions, and many stories to share.

Marine worm harvesters and dealers possess a vast amount of knowledge about their fishery, the species they harvest, and the mudflats of Maine. I was fortunate enough to record many of their observations, and I am forever grateful for their willingness to sit down with me and share their insights. This exhibit is a presentation of some of the main themes and ideas that arose from this work. It is also an invitation to engage with the marine worm fishery and its importance to Maine’s coastal communities by exploring both visual and audio snapshots from industry members. Thank you for engaging in this exploration with me.

Kaitlyn Clark ’19

Monster Course: Neotropical Ecology and Conservation, Winter ’19

April 30 - May 3, 2019

Students in the Neotropical Ecology and Conservation monster course exhibited work from their winter studies abroad for 6 weeks traveling through Costa Rica. Work exhibited included field books, arts and science projects, and other observations from their travels. Previously preserved collections from the Dorr Museum of Natural History were brought in to show similar species encountered by the group while abroad e.g. Lapas rojas, the Scarlet Macaw, and Bothrops asper, the ‘Fer-de-lance’ (or ‘Torciopelo’), a venomous pit viper. To view some of their final arts projects, visit here .

Photo Credit: Yoi Ashida ’22

Senior Project: Ode to Joy, by Andrea Fontana ’19

March 31- April 7

Ode to Joy is a time-based performance/installation piece. For two and a half weeks, I sat in the Witchcliff Sunroom and folded origami boats ranging from 6 to 8 hours a day. The performance was live streamed on and on the TV screen that faced outside one of the windows of the room. Both mediums only allowed the audience member to view the performance from the outside, whether through their computers or through the TV. Except for the area through which the audience could watch the TV, the windows were blacked out by black plastic sheets. Ode to Joy started on the February 27th, 2019 and lasted until March 15th, 2019. The action was the same throughout, and a recording is available inside the gallery. Before you is a dismembered version of Ode to Joy, its elements separated from each other. The objects are equal in their contribution to the project, and no hierarchy persists between them.

 The intention of the piece as such has become fully irrelevant. The comments, critiques, and questions each individual made about the piece transformed it into something different every day. One of the objectives of the piece was to experiment by adding layer of abstractions to an original idea, renovating it constantly, and observe what happened.

 So about the intention I will only say,

 The piece is an onion. The core is the original intention. The layers that cover the core until its skin are levels of abstraction at the conceptual level.

The skin is the physical separation between the performance and the audience. The skin is the black plastic covering the windows, the TV looking outside, the live stream.

Andrea Fontana ’19

Senior Project: The Making of a Picture Book: Figs for Olivera, by Anđela Rončević ’19

March 11 - 20, 2019

Somewhere halfway through my internship in a highly conceptual artistic environment, I realized that I needed create a Picture Book: a piece of wood and fiber with paint strokes and written words.

Anđela Rončević '19 - The Making of a Picture Book: Figs for Olivera

Story and illustrations for Figs for Olivera come from my experiences and observations of livelihoods and nature by the coast of the Adriatic sea, and a joy in learning languages. To make a sensible and genuine Picture Book, one has to use a fearless palette of feelings and thoughts. All the illustrations are created with watercolor, with a pinch of white gouache here and there, and color pencils as outlines. Finally, they were all also touched with digital means. For this exhibition, I wished to create a multimedia, interactive space in which one can feel, through all the sensence, the place that the characters inhabit. Photography and video are here to serve as windows into islands, villages, horizons, and humans that I used as reference points.

I grew up below my grandparents’, luscious fig tree, whose treetop covers the whole of our yard. We always sit by the stone table beneath it, to share stories and figs that often fall into our laps, on our heads, or in our coffee cups. To think that a fruit is so full of sunshine that it just has to drop down makes me smile. Some of my family members eat them more, some less - I could eat kilos and kilos of them. And yet, at the end of every summer, there is always more to preserve and dry for the coming cold days.

Anđela Rončević '19 - The Making of a Picture Book: Figs for Olivera

I wrote the first, messy draft of Figs for Olivera on September 4th, 2018., while on a plane from Croatia to the USA to start my senior year at COA. Needless to say, it was hard to leave the warm and blue Adriatic sea behind. But that is not the complaint - just another observation. The original text was written in my mother tongue, Croatian. Soon after they were first translated to English, the language I have been using perhaps most for the past 7 years. Often times I feel that the melody and color of English is undermined; I believe that this is not just a language of standardization or practicality. We need to read more poetry in English, read more Picture Books, and feel English as a breathing and living organism. I later translated the story to Italian and German, languages I am not fluent in, yet I lived and dreamed in them in one way or another. It was wonderful to feel the story of Olivera through other three languages dear to my heart. Translation is one of the most important art form that holds the world closer. Its power is often underrepresented, yet so essential in understanding of the nuances of human expressiveness.

Anđela Rončević '19 - The Making of a Picture Book: Figs for Olivera


Anđela Rončević  ’19

Independent Study: The Orchestration of Nature: The Winter Landscape Description by Michael Jacoby ’19

March 4 - 10, 2019

These photos are the result of an independent study I created for landscape photography. I began by trying to emulate Ansel Adams era landscape photography, which I believe was about glorifying the beauty of untouched nature. I  began learning more about the New Topographics movement in landscape photography which I believe was about finding beauty in human-altered landscapes. Later I also wanted to take the New Topographics idea one step further. If the Adams era was about the beauty of untouched nature, and the New Topographics about the beauty of roads and buildings and power lines through nature, then the idea behind the last five images is to document the beauty of natural things (trees) deliberately left or planted within a landscape so human-altered that they were conspicuous for being there. I visited the Bar Harbor golf course (off island), and the Kebo golf course to find altered landscapes that were large enough.

Michael Jacoby ’19

 Senior project: Gettin’ Dirty and Gettin’ Strong: Kentucky Women on Identity, Power, and Place by Jenna Farineau ’18

June 4 - 8, 2018

The Appalachian mountains first taught me that kentuckians have had to fight for home more than most. Though these mountains are rich with fertile soil and deeply rooted traditions, they are also a hotspot for extractive industries looking to exploit the coal nestled deep beneath their surface. As a young girl, I was taught that to protect and preserve something you love, you must do so through activism; from marching through the streets to meeting with state representatives about weak policies.

This activism quickly turned into a fierce love for the landscape of Kentucky because fighting for these mountains gave me my first feeling of belonging to a place and an identity. But unlike many people who grow up here, I do not come from a lineage of men and women who inform me of I am supposed to become; I was not raised with the traditions that make being from Kentucky so special. Yet this desire to preserve something that Kentuckians hold so dear showed me that finding and holding on to home is more than just being born and raised somewhere. Like most people from here, it took leaving this place to understand what it really means to belong and how important place can be in shaping your identity.

For my senior thesis, I decided to go back to Kentucky from December 2017 to March 2018 to explore the themes of finding and claiming identity, power, and a connection to Kentucky through the relationships women hold with food, the crops they grow, and the mothers and grandmothers who raised them. This journey took me to twenty different counties across the state, from the Bluegrass region to the hollers of Appalachia; from square dances to heirloom seed swaps.

Through my travels, attendance at conferences and workshops, and existing friendships, I met one-on-one with more than fifty women farmers, food entrepreneurs, chefs, activists, and homesteaders. I also held two potlucks that gathered women to share food they created and to participate in a discussion on the important of women in the Kentucky food system. The following publication presents interviews from twenty two women. Each section begins with a powerful observation from that woman, follows by excerpted transcripts from our conversations that touched in themes of motherhood, food and racial justice, environmental advocacy, empowerment, independence, nourishment, education, and parallel cultures.

Jenna Farineau ’18

Take a closer look at Jenna’s senior project .

Independent study: Exploration of Identity through Choreography and Performance by Emily Engelking Rappeport ’18

I wanted to offer vulnerability and ask the same of my audience. I wanted to create a space for intimacy to bloom. It is there that we share and relate. In the choreography, I chose to explore the process of exhaustion as it is negotiated by the motivation to keep giving to the audience. This felt like an important risk in offering vulnerability. It shows the disintegration of control and expresses a certain authenticity. I decided to hold this dance in the Blum gallery with its tall, white walls. I wanted the focus to be on our bodies and to level the performance space so that dancer and audience were eye to eye. I chose not to use music and danced in the center of a tight circle of people. I was able to connect with the entire room, mostly on an individual level. The space and choreography brought attention to the presence of the audience. The sounds of a body breathing on the floor laid the movement quite bare. There was no anonymity on either side and this charged the dance. I hoped each person in the room would feel the value of their own presence.

Emily Engelking Rappeport

Independent Studies: Ceramics for Senses and Imagination was a collaborative exhibition showcasing the ceramics work by Moni Ayoub ’19 and Anđela Rončević ’19. Public was able to see artwork created by their independent studies mentored by Rocky Mann. 

March 7-11, 2018

Moni’s study, “Ceramics ~ A Performance of Spirit” aims to engage with ceramics as a process of channeling emotion, involving aesthetic and human movement. The study focuses on creating utilitarian objects to explore its relation to “simple living”, as well as its influence in expression and therapy.

 Anđela’s “Croatian Folktales through Clay” study is an exploration of Croatian folk literature written by Ivana Brlić Mažuranić. She has been using Brlić Mažuranić’s folktales as inspiration for decorations of plates, mugs and making of tiny figurines. The work is artist’s personal celebration of the traditional yet unconventional, and joyful and colorful stories from home. It is also a celebration of craftsmanship and working with her hands. 

Art Residency: To Sew a Home, by Maya Critchfield ’16 

January 12-17, 2018

‘To Sew a Home’ is an art residency featuring the work of Maya Critchfield ’16 in the Ethel H. Blum Gallery at College of the Atlantic. During her residency Critchfield collected and pieced together vintage fabric and household linens to create a sewn structure, or “home” within the gallery. The work is the artist’s personal meditation on clothing, cloth, and home. Visitors were welcome to come by during open studio hours to watch the structure take shape.

Senior Project: Virus, Human and Power  by Porcia Manandhar ’17, Kathmandu, Nepal

May 17-22, 2017

Two years ago an HIV patient in South Africa asked me if I know how people with HIV were like from where I was born and how they coped with the disease. I didn’t have an answer for him but my ignorance bothered me so much that I decided to seek an answer to his question.

Now that I have found some answers, it has become important for me to communicate the information through the familiar medium of printmaking, to share stories of individuals from various walks of life who opened up to me.

This exhibit was an attempt to share their individual truths with my professors and peers, visually and without language barriers - and, also hopefully one day, with doctors, nurses, patients, and the South African patient who made this project possible.

Influence: Käthe Kollowitz (1867 - 9145) was a German Expressionist painter, printmaker, and sculptor.

Diary and letters of Käthe Kollowitz is a published collection of her writings from 1900 to her death in 1945. This collection includes her description of chronic diseases and childbirth. Kollwitz also created prints and drawings about hardships and social trauma - especially during the first two world wars. These written and visual works record her interactions with and observations of working-class women and their families as they sat in the waiting room of her physician husband’s medical clinic.

Kollowitz’s works provide her audience with the deeper insight into problems associated with unemployment, poverty, and medical conditions of at-risk workers such as sex-workers. Apart from her personal thoughts revealed in print, I could clearly discern her process of making woodblock prints, a medium with which I have been engaged for the past three years.

Porcia Manandhar ’17