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 on the sole 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 five fellows for 2016 are:
Susan grew up in midcoast Maine and now lives in Portland. She is the author of a memoir and a novel, as well as articles for publications ranging from The New York Times to the Paris Review. Her 2011 work, The Foremost Good Fortune, traces the story of her family’s years in Beijing. The book was an Oprah Magazine “Top Ten Pick,” and the winner of the Maine Literary Award for Memoir. Susan’s 2013 novel, Paris Was the Place, garnered, among other awards, a People Magazine “Top Pick” and a Slate Magazine “Summer Read.”
Susan was also the co-founder and founding Executive Director of The Telling Room, a nonprofit in Portland whose central belief is that giving children the chance to write their stories changes lives and communities. She currently serves as board chair.
Cara grew up on “the last road on Gouldsboro Point in Hancock County,” where she would spend her time making things from scraps from her stepfather’s wood and sheet metal shop and her mother’s sewing room. She’s known since her first craft show at age 12 she wanted to be a jeweler. A graduate of the University of Maine, Cara held a three-year internship with master metalsmith Curtis K. LaFollette in Cherryfield, during which he and his wife also taught her felting and its rich history. Currently Romano owns a shop that showcases a curated collection of American craft, and shares a studio space in Ellsworth where she makes her one-of-a-kind and limited production collections. In the off season she participates in national juried exhibitions and American Craft Shows. Cara is also the President of the Maine Crafts Association.
Morris’s formative years were spent studying painting in his hometown of Chicago at the Art Institute. He moved to Maine 37 years ago in “an attempt to live simpler, in balance with nature.” He began weaving with Shirley Russell Barlow in Martinsville, and now works on a vertical tapestry loom from Finland. His current work, the Hunter Stripe series and the Hunter Variations, are compositions built on design, balance, composition, proportion, and above all color. Dorenfeld feels that “Color is visual music. Color is king. With hands, heart and head, the designing and weaving of these tapestries became a natural means of personal expression.”
Pamela traces her Maine family as far back as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s grandfather and is pleased to have returned to her Franco-American roots after 23 years of living abroad, primarily in France. Now based in Portland, she “privileges play” and remains “loyal to the handmade process, and the feminine stitch composes her language.” Her large scale projects are tactile and demanding of serious manpower. Pamela recruits numerous volunteers to help construct her art and believes there is a kind of community that is born through this mode of working. Having started as a painter, she finds inspiration in materials discarded by time and turned to textile art and sculpture.
Peter grew up in Southwest Harbor and feels that all of his work is in some way linked to the sense of place and community that comes with living on an island. A graduate of the University of Connecticut, Peter’s first love is writing and, while his early films have been primarily documentaries, he aspires to writing and directing his own narrative feature films. His documentary shorts include “Frank & Ada,” the story of octagenarian Mainers renewing their high school romance; and “Outrunning Parkinson’s,” about a former elite runner who found that racing helps to alleviate his symptoms.
A graduate of the University of Connecticut, Peter’s first love is writing and, while his early films have been primarily documentaries, he aspires to writing and directing his own narrative feature films. His documentary shorts include “Frank & Ada,” the story of octagenarian Mainers renewing their high school romance; and “Outrunning Parkinson’s,” about a former elite runner who found that racing helps to alleviate his symptoms.