Maine Artist Fellowships are awarded annually to recognize artistic excellence and advance the careers of individual Maine artists. Fellowships are merit-based awards that are primarily informed by an applicant’s current work. The Commission recognizes that certain disciplines (eg. performing artists) may have individuals working as part of an ensemble. Such artists are given an opportunity to define their individual merit in the context of a collaborative group within the application.
The Maine Arts Commission places a high value on artistic excellence and social impact of awardees. In addition to this, the Commission holds to the strictest standards of transparency and equity when reviewing the materials.
Sara Juli has created and performed innovative solo work in New York City since 2000. She graduated from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY, with a degree in Dance and Anthropology. Sara was awarded the Arts Management Award from Brooklyn Arts Exchange and is an Advisory Board Member of The Field in NYC. Sara relocated to Portland Maine with her husband and two kids and continues to create and touring new solo work in addition to building her consulting practice.Sara is also an advisory board member of The Field in NYC and Bates Dance Festival in Lewiston.
Susan Bickford has been a full time practicing artist exhibiting in various media for over twenty years.Susan has designed projections for productions at Colby College and Heartwood Regional Theater Company. Recently her focus has been projected video/animation/sound for interactive installation and theater. In 2015 Susan Bickford initiated a pilot program titled 'Meandering Flow', inviting 10 local artists; dancers, musicians, visual and media artists to an experimental retreat in Sheepscot Village.
Kirsten Monke is the 2016 Maine Arts Fellow in the Performing Arts. Kirsten is a viola player who is part of the award-winning Maine chamber music ensemble, the DaPonte String Quartet. The Quartet originally came to Maine years ago as part of an NEA rural residency grant that supported embedding artists in rural communities. "We liked our community so much we decided to stay after the term of the grant was completed—and we now feel thoroughly woven into the fabric of Maine”, says Kirsten. Born in Brunswick, Kirsten is part of the faculty of Rockport's Bay Chamber Community Music School, where she teaches violin and viola and coaches chamber music. She also maintains a small private studio in the Brunswick area.
Peter Logue from Southwest Harbor has been awarded the 2016 Maine Arts Fellowship in Media Arts. Peter is an emerging writer/director filmmaker with a number of documentaries under his belt. He is inspired by sharing the stories of interesting people, and believes that in an ideal world every person would be able to star in their own documentary. However Peter is also interested in narrative features that encourage people to lead inspired, hopeful, and engaged lives. “While I love the process of making documentaries, my first love is writing and my career aspirations are all driven around writing and directing my own narrative feature films”.
The Frogtown Mountain Puppeteers are the Maine ArtsCommission’s 2015 Performing Arts Fellows. The Bar Harbor collective is a full-time touring puppet company comprised of three siblings. They have been performing throughout the state of Maine for 14 years. They do approximately 140 performances annually and since their founding in 2000 they have written, designed and produced five original puppet productions and three original puppet video projects. The three members of the puppetry troupe write the scripts, design and build all the puppets and sets, direct and choreograph the shows, as well as perform in the final productions. They focus primarily on "mouth and rod" puppets, but also design and perform shadow puppets, glove puppets, and marionettes.
David Meiklejohn from Portland is the 2015 Maine Arts Commission Media Arts Fellow. David comes from a literary background, but was drawn to the collaborative process of filmmaking “With my own work, I spearhead the effort by writing and directing, sometimes also running camera and editing the finished video. I have led projects that have brought me to Prague and I have also created work using my own attic as a set. The range is wide, and it always depends on what the project needs. I have learned to serve the work in order for the work to thrive.”
Sumner McKane, from Wiscassett, is the Maine Arts Commission’s 2014 Media and Performing Arts Fellow. McKane is a collector of images. A guitarist and composer with a photographer’s mind, McKane’s mental snapshots of trails traveled and times past inevitably find their way in to musical interpretations of these scenes. The vivid nature of the resulting soundscapes reveal musical and emotional themes that inexplicably straddle the line between fresh and familiar, all with fantastic facility.
Cecily Pingree, from North Haven, is the Maine Arts Commission’s 2013 Media and Performing Arts Fellow. She is a documentary filmmaker and cinematographer producing work that has focused on political and social issues. Some of her projects have been for The New York Times, National Geographic, and the Gates Foundation. Her work has been supported and recognized by the Sundance Institute, Chicken & Egg Pictures, LEF Foundation, IFP, Maine Arts Commission, and the Maine Community Foundation.
Allen Lowe, from South Portland, is the Maine Arts Commission’s 2012 Media and Performing Arts Fellow. He is a composer, musician, author and music historian. He plays saxophone and guitar, and has recorded with some of the major figures in Jazz, including: Julius Hemphill, Marc Ribot, Roswell Rudd, Don Byron, Doc Cheatham, and David Murray among others. He has also produced a series of historical projects on American Popular Song, Jazz, and the Blues.
Deborah Wing-Sproul, from Cape Elizabeth, is the 2011 Media and Performing Arts Fellow. She is a multidisciplinary artist who works primarily in live performance and performance-based video. Her background in modern dance and choreography informs her current arts practice and influences the work she produces. Deborah’s current long-term itinerant work, Tidal Culture (2004), is an interdisciplinary project which reveals itself to the viewer through objects formed from seaweed, durational performance-based video, as well as large-scale photographic prints. Producing this work has taken her to the North Atlantic shorelines of Maine, Newfoundland, Greenland, and Iceland. The continuing project is scheduled to travel to the Faroe Islands, the Outer Hebrides and Ireland.
Ryan Bennett, from Pittsfield, is a filmmaker who was born and raised in Maine. He has been making films since he was 15 years old. He graduated from Vancouver Film School’s 12-month film production program in 2005 and is thrilled to be chosen as the 2010 Media and Performing Arts Fellow. “I am very proud to be from a state where the Arts Commission recognizes a motion picture, albeit short, as a piece of art. It is truly the greatest compliment a filmmaker can receive and for it to come from my home means more to me personally than I could ever hope to articulate.
Alison Chase is a choreographer, director, master teacher and theatrical artist living on the coast of Maine. Her work explores emotional terrain through innovative movement, multidimensional storytelling, fusions of film and dance, site-specific works, and museum installations. Ms. Chase founded Alison Chase/Performance in 2009 to pursue her creative vision in bold collaborations with others artists, writers, designers, composers, photographers, filmmakers, dancers and musicians. Alison’s instinct for collaboration and education led to a position as Choreographer-In-Residence and Assistant Professor of Dance at Dartmouth College, after she graduated from UCLA with an M.A. in Dance. Alison’s ability to teach improvisation and collective creativity proved transformational, and from this unexpected setting emerged the origins of Pilobolus Dance Theater, where she was a Founding Artistic Director.
Karen Montanaro is a world-renowned dancer and mime artist, an award-winning choreographer, and the innovator of "mimedance" (the fusion of two classical art forms). Karen currently tours the world with her one-woman show entitled "Tanzspiel." Karen is a teaching artist and offers residencies in movement, mime and dance in public and private schools throughout the United States. She studied ballet at the Cantarella School of Dance, the Ram Island Dance Center and on scholarship with the Joffrey Ballet School. Karen danced professionally with the Ohio Ballet and the Darmstadt Opera Ballet in Germany. For more than a decade, Karen toured and taught internationally with her husband and teacher, mime master Tony Montanaro.