ROCKLAND — AIO Food and Energy Assistance announces the opening of “ArtFeeds,” an exhibition and online silent auction of a collection of 30 wooden bowls to support the organization’s food, energy, weekend meal and diaper assistance programs. Thirty well-known Midcoast artists have created their own bowl or worked with a wooden bowl carved and donated by residents of the Maine State Correctional Facility’s industries program. The only direction for the artists was to “create something that represents the community taking care of one another with food,” according to Joe Ryan, executive director of AIO. “ArtFeeds Artists-in-Action Against Food Insecurity” is a unique collaboration amongst artists, Page Gallery and the Maine State Correctional Facility, coming together to highlight and support AIO’s programs.

The exhibition is on display Sept. 3 through 10 at Page Gallery, 23 Bay View St., Camden. The online silent auction also opens Sept. 3 and runs the length of the exhibition, culminating with a reception Saturday, Sept. 10, from 4 to 6 p.m. at Page Gallery. Final bids are due by 6 p.m. The exhibition is free and open to the public.

Those interested in viewing the exhibition and participating in the silent auction are encouraged to pre-register. Silent auction information can be found on AIO’s website at aiofoodpantry.org/artfeeds. All proceeds from the silent auction will support AIO’s four programs: food pantry, energy assistance, weekend meal and diaper program.

“This week-long art exhibition and closing reception represents an entire summer of artists, volunteers, partnering organizations, and supporters working together to demonstrate how a community can address challenges that many families face,” Ryan said. “For the winning bidders, an ArtFeeds bowl will be a family treasure for generations to come, and the benefit to hundreds of local families will be immediate.”

Participating artists include Lise Bécu, Hannah Berta, Meghan Brady, Beth Bull, Caroline Dishop, Ingrid Ellison, Ileana Appleton Foster, Eric Hopkins, Ariela Kuh, Alexis Iammarino, Monica Kelly, Sal Taylor Kydd, Sarah G Lee, Nathaniel Meyer, Christopher Mir, Tara Morin, Sarah McRae Morton, Colin Page, Margaret Rizzio, Anneli Skaar, Marianne Smith, Barbara Sullivan, Greta Van Campen, Simon van der Ven, Hannah Secord Wade, Peter Walls, Andy White, Margaret Williams, Susan Williams, and a resident of the Maine State Correctional Facility. AIO will share the artists’ creative process and artist statements on @aiofoodpantry (Instagram) and @AIOFoodpantry70 (Facebook).

AIO Food & Energy Assistance has been addressing food and energy insecurity in Knox County for more than 30 years and continues to work throughout the community to raise awareness in an effort to reach anyone who may need assistance. AIO participates in the local food system, joining food producers, distributors, and preparers with donors, volunteers, and local businesses to minimize food waste, maximize local resources, and share the abundance of food that exists in the community.

AIO is experiencing rapid increases in program enrollment due to both improved program experience and challenging economic times. So far this year, there has been more than 100% increase in pantry visits. As of June, 3,397 family visits have been made to the pantry, which represents 8,881 individuals. During the 2021-2022 school year, AIO’s Weekend Meals Program provided more than 11,623 weekend packets to school children. AIO provided nearly $200,000 in energy assistance this past heating season, and the diaper program has distributed more than 29,000 diapers thus far this year.

To learn more about AIO, stop by and visit the pantry at 1A Gordon Drive, Mondays through Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. More information about AIO programs, volunteering or how to make a donation is available at AIO4Me.org.