UMF New Commons Project kicks off year with exciting free and open to the public events focused on A

  • August 31, 2021

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Outdoor Art Workshop
Sept. 18, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. UMF Prescott Field

FARMINGTON, ME  (August 30, 2021)— Once again, the University of Maine at Farmington’s New Commons Project will kick off the academic year with an exciting series of free and open to the public events centered on an influential cultural work nominated by people in the State of Maine.

The first featured topic this fall is “Christina’s World,” one of the best-known American paintings of the middle 20th century, by famed visual artist Andrew Wyeth. Done in a realist style, the painting depicts Anna Christina Olson, Wyeth’s neighbor, who had a degenerative muscular disorder and is crawling to her home in Cushing, Maine.

Realism in the arts is focused on the truthful representation of the subject matter. The meticulous and detailed realist qualities of Wyeth’s work are regionalist in style and his popularity earned him the title of “Painter of the People.” He was the first native-born living American artist to receive a retrospective exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The UMF New Commons events focused on Christina’s World will run between Sept. 2 and Sept. 22. A face covering is required for indoor events.

“Reimagining the Real” Art Exhibit
Sept. 2-21
Opening reception for exhibitions will take place at the Emery Community Arts Center on the UMF campus Sept. 2, from 4-7 p.m.  An Emery 10th anniversary celebration will follow with live music beginning at 4:30 p.m. and commemorative remarks by UMF President Edward Serna at 5:30 p.m.

This exhibition is co-sponsored with the Emery Community Arts Center and features artworks that engage the legacy of realism in the 21st century, continuing, complicating or contesting this tradition. Accounts of western art history often emphasize the political significance of realism’s commitment to depicting “ordinary life” in a “naturalistic” way. Historical realism thus reflects a certain consensus around the meanings of nature, the ordinary and the real. How do we imagine the real and its politics today? What does traditional realism still have to offer? Who determines which realities count as real? Whose perspective is reflected in the depiction of “ordinary life”? How is our perception of nature and of others limited or expanded by aesthetic convention? How might realities of abstract, non-visual or non-static experience enrich our understanding of realism or the real? The works featured in the exhibit grapple with these vital questions in our contemporary context.

Discussion of Reimagining the Real and Christina’s World with Ann Bartges and Kristen Case
September 15, 11:45 a.m.-1 p.m., Emery Community Arts Center

Join Ann Bartges, assistant professor of visual arts and Emery Community Arts Center director, and  Kristen Case, professor of English, for a discussion of the relationship between Reimagining the Real and Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World.

Keynote: “Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World and King Vidor’s The Big Parade” by Henry Adams
Sept. 17, 7 p.m. - 8:30 p.m., Emery Community Arts Center

Join Wyeth expert Henry Adams, Ruth Coulter Heede Professor of Art History at Case Western Reserve University, for an examination of the surprising relationship between Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World and King Vidor’s classic silent film The Big Parade (1925). The lecture will be preceded by a piano reception in the lobby of the Emery Community Performing Arts Center.

Outdoor Art Workshop
Sept. 18, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. UMF Prescott Field

UMF faculty member Elizabeth Olbert will lead a conversation on realism and Andrew Wyeth’s representations of working class Mainers before guiding participants through a multimedia art workshop. Artists and non-artists are welcome, and all art materials will be provided. Refreshments will be served at 9:30 a.m. with discussion beginning at 10 a.m.

“Facing Away Photography Workshop”
Sept. 22, 5-6 p.m., Emery Community Arts Center

Join Dawn Nye, associate professor of art and new media, for a free photography workshop that will feature: basics of composition, strategies to involve narrative in visual media, and hands-on practice. This workshop is for all levels and will allow participants to turn even the most casual, at-home photos into intriguing narratives while considering how you can tell stories through photography. If possible, please bring a camera or camera phone to this event. Contact if you would like to come but will need to borrow a camera.

The UMF New Commons Project provides a rich offering of free events including expert talks, discussions, films and more, many online, for the education and enjoyment of people in Maine and beyond. Nominated by individuals throughout Maine, the selection of New Commons works have the common thread of representing many of the principles and cultural values that inspire and fascinate Maine residents.

The New Commons Project is a public humanities initiative of the University of Maine at Farmington, Maine’s public liberal arts college, in partnership with the Maine Humanities Council. It is made possible by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

To learn more about the New Commons Project, and to view many of the events for the first 12 topics, visit the website at:

More on University of Maine at Farmington

A nationally-recognized liberal arts college known for its commitment to student success, UMF provides a challenging yet supportive environment to prepare students for both careers and further study. Rooted in a tradition of teacher preparation, UMF offers top quality programs in the arts and sciences, teacher preparation, and pre-professional studies. Located in the heart of Maine’s four-season outdoor recreational region, UMF is a welcoming, close-knit academic community that prepares students for engaged citizenship, enriching professional careers and an enduring love of learning.



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April Mulherin

UMF Associate Director for Media Relations
Farmington  ME  04000