Public invited to participate in free COVID-19 art workshops through UMaine’s Jack Pine Project

The Jack Pine Project uses the creative arts to tell the story of the coronavirus pandemic through the eyes of residents, guided by professional artists.



Belfast, Maine — Maine residents are invited to participate in a new project at the University of Maine that is using the arts to tell the story of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

“The Jack Pine Project,” a collaboration of the Maine Folklife Center, Maine Studies Program and the Hutchinson Center, connects professional artists, including UMaine faculty, with residents statewide, including vulnerable groups such as incarcerated people and cancer patients. The free workshops are underway; registration is online: jackpineproject.com.

 

The Jack Pine Project uses the creative arts to help residents tell their stories of the pandemic and its impacts on their lives, according to Kreg Ettenger, director of Maine Studies and the Maine Folklife Center, and associate professor of anthropology. It takes its name from the tree that releases its seeds in times of stress, such as after a wildfire.

 

“Art is something that everyone can relate to, and that touches us in powerful ways,” Ettenger says. “One goal of the project is to bring people together who share a common experience, such as health care workers or teachers, and have them work with an artist to present this shared experience to others.”

 

Art can also help people begin the process of healing from the shock and grief of a pandemic that has killed over 100 people in the state, sickened thousands, and touched the lives of many more. Several of the workshop instructors are trained as art or music therapists, Ettenger says, and will use their skills to help participants deal with their emotions while creating art.

 

The project involves a number of workshops in various genres, from visual arts to songwriting and the dramatic arts. Instructors include printmakers, theater producers, songwriters, fiber artists and others. Each will work with a small group to teach them a craft, then help them produce projects that reveal different facets of Maine’s coronavirus experience.

 

Among the project’s dozen or so workshops: music therapist Carla Tanguay is working with cancer patients in the Ellsworth region to create a group songwriting project. Stephen Legawiec, artistic director of the Camden Shakespeare Festival, is meeting via Zoom with other theater producers, directors and actors statewide to put their coronavirus experiences into dramatic monologues. Another instructor is working with veterans in the Maine prison system as they explore the impacts of COVID-19 on their lives, which have become even more isolated and dangerous as a result of the pandemic.

 

A full list of workshops with registration information is on the project’s website. All Jack Pine Project workshops are free for participants, although space is limited, and some workshops are restricted to certain groups. A live event next year and the project website will share the art with the wider community.

 

“The Hutchinson Center is proud to be a part of this important project, supporting our community as (people) explore their COVID-19 experiences and begin the process of healing through the arts,” says interim director Kim Wilson-Raymond. “The project aligns with the goals of the Hutchinson Center to provide education, arts and cultural opportunities for our community.”



About the Project Mark

 

The Jack Pine Project mark, designed by UMaine Marketing & Communications artist Shennah Derstine, shows a small seedling growing out of scorched earth. For a high-resolution image, please email folklife@maine.edu.

 

About the Maine Folklife Center and Maine Studies Program

The Maine Folklife Center provides research, outreach and training in the areas of oral history, folklore and the traditional cultural heritage of Maine and the surrounding region. The Maine Studies Program offers graduate and undergraduate degrees and promotes Maine culture through public events, including the Framing Maine lecture series. For more information email folklife@maine.edu or call 207.581.1840.

 

About the UMaine Hutchinson Center

The Hutchinson Center is an outreach center of the University of Maine that serves as an educational and cultural resource for the midcoast area. Its mission is to broaden access to UMaine academic programs and services, lifelong learning opportunities, and professional and career development. It provides degree and non-degree courses in a variety of formats; offers academic counseling and support; provides conference and meeting facilities and services; and hosts educational and cultural events. For information email hutchinsoncenter@maine.edu or call 207.338.8000.

 

About the University of Maine

The University of Maine, founded in Orono in 1865, is the state's land grant, sea grant and space grant university. It is located on Marsh Island in the homeland of the Penobscot Nation. As Maine's flagship public university, UMaine has a statewide mission of teaching, research and economic development, and community service. UMaine is the state's only public research university and among the most comprehensive higher education institutions in the Northeast. It attracts students from all 50 states and more than 70 countries. UMaine gives over 11,000 undergraduate and graduate students opportunities to participate in groundbreaking research with world-class scholars. UMaine offers more than 100 degree programs through which students can earn master's, doctoral or professional science master's degrees, as well as graduate certificates. The university promotes environmental stewardship, with substantial efforts campuswide to conserve energy, recycle and adhere to green building standards in new construction. For more information about UMaine, visit umaine.edu.

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