The Maine Arts Commission’s Fellowships reward artistic excellence, advance the careers of Maine artists and promote public awareness regarding the eminence of the creative sector in Maine. The awards are made solely on the basis of artistic excellence. Due to the competitiveness of the Individual Artist Fellowship program and to avoid conflict of interest, all jurors selected for this program reside out of state. The seven fellows for 2023 are:
Bobbi Tardif of Perry, has always had a deep connection to the physicality of land and the important role of family. In November of 2020, Bobbi and her family moved back to her hometown of Perry in Washington County. One of her fondest childhood memories was spent playing in the spring fed stream behind her house. That is where she discovered glacial clay. She dug the clay up with her hands, formed it, molded it, squished it between her fingers, and became completely fascinated. It was the bond between material, manipulation, and self that led Bobbi to pursue being an artist.
Bobbi is an arts educator who is devoted to growing visual arts programming in public education within her community. Her positive outlook, spirited energy, and genuine care for others provides her students and community with opportunities to explore art in a variety of ways, helping them see the artist within.
”Continuous learning allows me to analyze and think about my artwork in new ways, but teaching allows me to share what I have learned and who I am as an artist with others,” says Bobbi.
Knowing firsthand what strong arts programming can have on a rural community and individually, Bobbi began the construction of her studio in 2021. The studio will allow her to pursue her own artwork and offer valued art programming including ceramics. Being in Perry and examining the geology of the streams, the ecology of the woods, the oceanography of the water, and forming new discoveries with this place is pure joy, Bobbi said. The Belvedere Fellowship, which is awarded to artists in Hancock and Washington Counties, will bring Bobbi one step closer to making her dream a reality with the purchase of equipment for the studio. She said she is blessed and honored to be chosen for this award.
Erica Moody of Waldoboro sculpts unique serving wares. The craft evolved from wanting to make tools that create connection, and to focus that intersection with the spirituality in sharing food. Her utensil designs are inspired by a variety of antique serving styles, traditional metal craft techniques, as well as minimal design and fabrication learned from collaborations over the last 30 years with artists, architects, and designers. Erica’s process is to develop a conversation with the materials, mostly brass, copper, and steel - and create a purposeful simplicity with focused attention on human connection and haptic experience, enhanced by careful craftsmanship. Using refined and organic techniques in her craftmanship, areas of texture emerge and become a nuanced detail that documents the process while conveying the intimate sense of time, ritual, existence and connection of the maker, user, and object. Erica’s work transitioned to this phase when she moved to Maine in 2014, where she discovered inspiration and time in the spacious natural environment. “I was deeply influenced by the intimate relationship communities have with the sharing of food, from how it is grown, the care of the environment it is grown in, the families that grow it, and how we all embrace it in our cooking pots and on our tables. I feel a connection to my own family lineage and memories of their time as farmers and cooks in the rural South, with recipes, seeds, and cookware have been passed down through the generations.”
Cole Caswell of Peaks Island, is an artist whose home is tethered to an island off the coast of Maine. His work Rise is a photographic investigation of the coastal landscape in Maine that will be lost to sea level rise. The use of the wet-plate collodion process allows Cole to hand make each of his images while on location. The resulting glass-plate negatives are an accumulation of what it is like to be in a place – a tribute to a landscape that will be consumed by water and the rising ocean. The artifacts and unique marks within the hand poured negatives intrigue Cole. “As chance-based additions they visually suggest the faltering of our contemporary world.” Maybe visions from memory, a dream, or a fleeting glimpse of what is at stake as our climate changes the places we hold sacred.”
“The Maine Art Fellowship is an award I am very humbled to receive. I see the award as a chance to further expand my audience while simulations allow me to create and pursue new works,” said Cole. “The fellowship has inspired me to chase loose ends and question while adding energy to my studio practice. I have been pursuing a Maine Arts Fellowship since becoming an artist and settling in the state – it’s been a huge goal - and to be chosen for this year’s fellowship leaves me speechless and so excited to continue making.
Brittany Parker of Rockport, is a Maine-based theatre and music maker. She is the creator and lead singer of Bee Parks and the Hornets, an indie pop-rock band for families, and the Education Manager for the Strand Theatre in Rockland. She is passionate about the power of art to enhance daily life in rural communities and is interested in creating works of performance that appeal to all ages. Since moving to Maine in 2013, Brittany has co-created several original productions for intergenerational audiences. Her work uses original music, puppetry, and audience participation to reimagine what it means to go to a show and engage with the magic of storytelling. Highlighting themes of empathy, equity, environmental awareness, social justice, and individuality, much of Brittany’s recent work has been inspired by Maine stories, communities, and issues. “I frequently co-create with a rotating ensemble of theatre makers and musicians who share similar artistic values. The strong entrepreneurial spirit and the vibrant artistic community here inspired me to start creating my own works of performance. The development of this work is intrinsically linked to the wonderful people who live in the state – their reactions and participation at each show have forever influenced me as an artist and performer.”
Brittany’s shows have been performed in theatres, libraries, parks, and schools, often paired with workshops in music, puppetry, and filmmaking. She has also toured to nine US states and as far as Tottori, Japan.
The Maine Artist Fellowship award will help Brittany build on new and existing solo performance works that have been stalled during the pandemic. She looks forward to sharing the fruits of this labor with the Maine communities that mean so much to her and have helped shape the artist she is today.
Asha Tamirsa of Portland, works with sound, video, film, and researches media histories. Along with many colleagues, Asha co-founded OPENSIGNAL, a collective of artists concerned with the state of gender and race in electronic music and art practice. Asha moved to Maine in 2019 and has presented a site-specific video installation for Space Gallery’s 2020 “ReSite” exhibition, a sound installation in Congress Square Park in 2021, a sound installation for Make Music Portland in 2022, and an artist Residency at Hewnoaks Artist Colony in 2022.
She now works with the organization TECHNE. Asha has taught sound and media art at Brown University, the Rhode Island School of Design, Girls Rock! Rhode Island, and Street Level Youth Media in Chicago. Asha holds a Ph.D. in Computer Music and Multimedia and an M.A. in Modern Culture and Media from Brown University and is currently an Assistant Professor at Bates College. Asha has performed at venues such as the ICA Boston and Bitforms Gallery (NYC), has given talks at institutions such as the University of Michigan, Mount Holyoke College, and Oberlin College, and has and held residencies at Hewnoaks (Lovell, ME), The Media Archeology Lab (Boulder, CO), Perte de Signal (Montreal, CA) and I-Park Foundation (East Haddam, CT). Asha’s work has been mentioned in the Oxford Handbook of New Audiovisual Aesthetics and the 5th Edition of Electronic and Experimental Music: Technology, Music, and Culture.
Asha plans to use her Maine Artist Fellowship Award to build her sound and video/film studio in Maine and will also support the release of a full-length experimental music album, which she hopes to undertake in collaboration with Maine-based visual artists and audio engineers in the coming year or two.
Jeri Theriault of South Portland, was born and raised in Waterville, a mill town perched on the Kennebec, where she attended Sacred Heart School with other descendants of the French-Canadian millworkers who settled in the area. Her father was a barber, her mother a housewife and a bookkeeper.
She studied English and classics at Colby, earned an MA in Instructional Leadership from USM and an MFA from Vermont College. She taught at Deering and South Portland High Schools for twenty years. A 1998-99 Fulbright Teacher Exchange brought her to Gymnasium Arabska in Prague. Then, in 2002 she became Chair of the English Department at The International School of Prague, a position she held for six years.
Jeri’s still writing about those Prague years, but Maine—her childhood and French Catholic heritage—form the most consistent threads in her writing. Her characters, grandmother and mother, girl cousins and aunts, are sometimes augmented by personae like Barbie or Demeter or Coco Chanel.
The Maine Arts Commission Fellowship will fund traveling, research and residencies to support her latest project whose working title is “Cemetery Stories,” inspired by regular walks in Mount Pleasant and Bay View Cemeteries near her South Portland home. Her plan includes visits to several Maine graveyards, including Saint Francis Catholic Cemetery in Waterville as well as pilgrimages to Quebec and Nova Scotia to find the graves of ancestors.
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