In its first year, Arts@theIntersection worked with schools in Knox, Lincoln, and Waldo counties, uplifting the voices of midcoast youth.
Museum staff start by building trust with students in their own classrooms. They engage with teachers to understand the relationships at play in each class, then build programs and community connections that would best meet both teacher and student goals.
“Arts@theIntersection gives students a voice in their education and a choice about how they can engage with it most effectively.” –Alexis Saba, School Programs Manager at Farnsworth Art Museum.
By the time students come to the Museum they feel empowered to connect with the larger arts community. Every class creates alongside working Maine artists who engage them with clay, film, printmaking, and more.
“They have to work together to arrive at the topic. What they want to express… how they are going to express it. How can we blend all of these ideas and turn it into something that is a collaboration, truly a collaboration, that involves all of you?” –Kim Bernard, Teaching Artist.
Bernard worked with a class from Vinalhaven, an island near Rockland. Their K-12 public school is full of students whose families work in the lobstering industry, and this class was no exception. They traveled to the Herring Gut Coastal Science Center to learn about lobsters and rising ocean temperatures, and together they created a sculpture made almost entirely of recycled materials that tells the story of how a keystone of their community might be threatened.
“They’re in an alternative program, because they haven’t always felt connected to school, and when they’re heard, and they have an opportunity to express themselves in a way that matters, they thrive.” –Anna Meyers, Teacher with the Medomak Valley Alternative Program.
While the students from Vinalhaven explored connection and teamwork, students from Medomak Valley High School tackled feelings of disconnection. These 11th and 12th graders were concerned about houselessness. Some explored their own personal stories connected to being unhoused, and in collaboration with The Landing Place, they had the opportunity to express themselves in a meaningful way.
“What I really hope this means for our community and everyone who visits here is that they have the privilege of accessing and learning about students’ lived experience.” –Alexis Saba, School Programs Manager at Farnsworth Art Museum.
After a year of working with the Museum, community partners, and teaching artists who give them a voice and a choice within their learning experience, students show increased empowerment, confidence, and buy-in. At the Arts@theIntersection exhibition opening in May, students tugged their friends and families along, pointed at their names on the Museum wall, and spoke with confidence about how they created their art.
Visit the museum to see the Arts@theIntersection exhibition and hear the voices of midcoast Maine students for yourself.