For the 69th year, students in Boothbay Region schools are exhibiting their artwork from the past year at Boothbay Region Art Foundation – and it is quite a show. What makes it all the more remarkable is the art created by Boothbay Region Elementary School students, who were unable to return to school after February vacation due to flooding and the issues it created. Teachers had to pump up their creative sides as classes were moved to buildings on and off the peninsula, all the way to Camp Kieve for some!
As soon as you enter the BRAF gallery, you are drawn to the back of the space in brilliant color representing the imaginative work of BRES students taught by Jessica Nadeau, Maine’s Elementary School Art Teacher of the Year. Right after the flooding at BRES, Nadeau thought the issue would be temporary – two weeks and then back to normal. Not so. What then? The students did positive/negative lobster prints for the fundraiser to benefit Maine Lobstermen’s Association at Robinson’s Wharf. The prints are hung in various places throughout the BRES artwork. Nadeau next had the children make heart handprints that were joined together to signify the unity of teacher and students during a time of upheaval just begun.
Thanks to a grant, Nadeau knew artist Pamela Moulton (also an award recipient as Community Art Educator of the year from the Maine Art Education Association – MAEA) would be at BRES in the spring to make art with her students. Moulton has been making art out of “ghost gear” - tools of the trade for commercial fishermen. See more of her work at https://bit.ly/3OfschZ
Moulton brought ghost gear and bait bags she had sewn together to create “magic bags” that were filled with the gear and oyster shells from a local farm. Nadeau put out a call to lobstermen for old rope, and got more than she expected. This was used as a covering for old shrimp traps stacked on the floor, and as a cover for an old rocking chair in the corner. Moulton always makes a chair wherever she goes and luckily Nadeau had found one in the wood pick pile at the landfill. She wove a new seat for it using various materials, not knowing it would fit right in with the ghost rope “upholstery!”
The ocean project went along with the Moulton program, learning about the fishing and lobstering community, sustainability, recycling, etc. So, without walls to hang the work on, moving from location to location to be with her students Nadeau decided they would use diffusing paper on which the students in grades 4-6 painted with water to create what colors might be seen in the ocean on a sunny day, at night, early morning, etc. When Nadeau was somewhere she could string up a clothesline, the “oceans” were hung to dry. The fish and jellyfish shapes were based on characters in children’s books. Pre-K through 3 made the jellyfish and K-2 made the fish.
While BRES students were tangling with fishing, the oceans, sustainability and ghost gear, Boothbay Region High School students were working on creative projects of their own. For example, “Three Dimensional Iconic Paintings” invited students to choose a famous painting to replicate, with a twist: They had to incorporate a body part or two. Students stretched canvas and then cast body parts that would add dimension to their adaptions.
One example was van Gogh’s “Starry Night” reimagined by Colby Allen who used one of his arms as the base of a cypress tree and the curled hand of classmate/friend Ariel Alamo.
Here is why Allen chose the van Gogh: “My grandmother had a painting of ‘Starry Night’ at her house. When Manon told us about this project she mentioned that one, and it was the first one I thought of. I thought the cypress tree would be a good way to introduce the human element into it. It was a very fun project and I’m excited about having been able to do it. The raised elements – friend Ariel Alamo’s hand. We plastered her hands and my arms and attached them to the canvas.”
The Origami Cranes project was inspired after students studied World War II and the bombing of Hiroshima. The class read the book, “Sadoko and the Thousand Paper Cranes” and then proceeded to make them for several reasons: First, to recognize Sadoko’s quiet courage as she battled cancer brought on by the bombing when she was 2. Second, in Japanese culture it is believed that if one folds 1,000 cranes, a person’s wish will come true. The cranes are displayed at the front of the BRAF gallery on either side of the door.
There are so many fascinating works of art in this show, you must see it. Do not think for a minute that just because the art is by students it isn’t going to be a satisfying experience. It will be an hour or two well spent.
The Student Art Show at BRAF, 1 Townsend Ave, Boothbay Harbor, continues Thursday, May 18 through Sunday, May 21. Gallery hours are from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.