The Maine Arts Commission on February 6, 2017 announced its 2017 Maine Artist Fellowships, naming seven accomplished Maine artists in six disciplines. Each will receive a $5,000 award.
Maine Artist Fellowships are awarded each year to recognize artistic excellence and advance the careers of Maine artists. Originally awarded in five disciplines, the program expanded several years ago to include two fellowships in craft making, including a generalized crafting fellowship, encompassing things such as glass blowing, weaving, pottery and furniture making, open to all Maine artists, and the Belvedere Handcraft fellowship, awarded only to residents of Washington and Hancock counties.
The fellows this year are as follows:
— Elisabeth Tova Bailey, a writer based in the midcoast region, is the Literary Arts fellow. She is the author of “The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating,” a 2014 memoir combining natural history, medicine and personal essay.
— Susan Bickford, a visual artist based in Newcastle, is the Media Arts fellow. She works with video, sound and electronics to create fascinating installations and theatrical works. She teaches at the University of Maine at Augusta and at the University of Maine in Orono.
— Amy Stacey Curtis, a visual artist based in Lyman, is the Visual Arts fellow. In 1998, Curtis began an 18-year cycle of massive site-specific installations at abandoned mill spaces in Maine. Her final installation occurred in 2016.
— Sara Juli, a dancer and choreographer based in Portland, is the Performing Arts fellow. She presents autobiographical solo performance pieces utilizing movement, text, song, voice, gesture and audience participation. Juli moved to Maine from New York in 2015.
— Michaela Stone, a furniture maker who grew up in Maine and lives in Rockport, is this year’s Craft fellow. Her work in fine furniture craft pushes the medium into the conceptual art world. She has worked under Maine’s master furniture maker Brian Reid.
— Shanna Wheelock of Lubec is this year’s Belvedere Handcraft fellow. A Maine native and potter by trade, she creates pottery, sculpture and weavings that reflect Maine’s rural life and long-gone factories. Wheelock’s current series focuses on the deterioration of the local sardine industry.
— Edmund Theriault, 96, is this year’s Traditional Arts fellow. For more than 50 years, Theriault has made snowshoes, helping conserve this important Native and Acadian tradition in Northern Maine.
Additionally, six apprenticeships were awarded to six groups of young artists in Maine, including two sponsored by the Maine Crafts Association. They are as follows:
— Apprentices Muna Abo, Gamana Yarow and Abdinoor Hassan and Masters Atiya Haji, Hassan Barjin, Muhidin Libah, all based in the Lewiston area, who will study Somali Bantu basket making, tailoring and tinsmithing.
— Apprentice Tim Ebersold and Master Christian Stevens, out of Freeport. Stevens will teach Ebersold a repertoire of Irish concertina and accordion music.
— Apprentices Laura and Mariana Martinez and Master Cindy Larock, all out of Lewiston, will work together on French Canadian traditional dance, including Quebecois step and social dancing.
— Apprentice Hudson Labbe and Master Artist Brian J. Theriault, based out of Eagle Lake. Brian Theriault learned the art of snowshoe making from his father Edmund over the last four decades and will teach Labbe the art.
— The Maine Crafts Association will sponsor apprentice Cara Taggersell learning the craft of glassblowing under master Ben Coombs of Woolwich, and Carel Shonerd of Dresden, who will also study glassblowing with masters Terrill Waldman and Charlie Jenkins.