AUGUSTA — The Maine Arts Commission recently announced seven Maine artists from throughout the state — including Kingfield resident Sarah Sockbeson — are recipients of its $5,000 Maine Artist Fellowship Awards. The Maine Arts Fellowships are annual, merit based and designed to recognize artistic excellence while advancing the careers of Maine artists.
The awardees are selected by out-of-state expert panelists. In addition, the commission announced the 2019 participants in its Traditional Arts Apprenticeship program. This annual year-long, one-on-on program pairs masters and apprentices based on their experience and commitment to the traditional art form they practice, for the purpose of sustaining and passing these often endangered traditions down from one generation to the next.
Sockbeson is the traditional arts recipient. While Sockbeson grew up living on and off of the Penobscot Indian Island Reservation, she always knew she would one day pursue a career in the arts.
Although Sockbeson comes from a long line of basket weavers, she first had to seek out the knowledge and cultural heritage of the traditional art form. Sockbeson soon learned the intricacies of traditional ash and sweetgrass basketry. From picking the sweetgrass, to locating an ash tree with very specific qualities, to cutting, dying and weaving the materials, Sockbeson takes part in every step of the process.
With help from the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance, Sockbeson is now a master basketmaker who teaches apprentices to preserve the cultural heritage. She says she hopes to continue sharing her knowledge, vision, and voice for future generations.
Other recipients are:
* Diana Cherbuliez of Vinalhaven — visual arts: Since moving to an island community off the coast of Maine, Cherbuliez has incorporated themes of isolation, access and physical and conceptual structure into her craft. The long winters, the constant of the tide and variable of the weather, and the intense and extreme physical beauty of Vinalhaven; it all appears in her work. Diana says she enjoys researching her projects, and working with collected and salvaged materials that stem from her respect for history, craftsmanship and conservation.
* Lynn Duryea of Deer Isle — Belvedere Handcraft (for craft artists, located in Hancock or Washington Counties, in partnership with the Maine Community Foundation): Ever since Duryea set foot on Deer Isle, it has been an on-going source of inspiration — the geography, the architecture, the harbors full of work boats and the culture. Duryea moved to Stonington in 1974, and has been living and operating a studio on the working waterfront. Through elemental shape and form, she uses architectural, structural and mechanical elements in a variety of scales.
* Jennifer Lunden of Portland — literary arts: In 1989 Jennifer Lunden became ill; she was just 21 years old and had recently moved to Maine. Following 25 years of recovery, Lunden says she believes her identity as a dual citizen raised in Canada and living in the US — disabled for many years by a controversial and misunderstood illness — offers her a unique perspective on some of the issues we face in America today. “American Breakdown: Notes from an Industrialized Body,” blends memoir, history, science and social criticism to reveal the health hazards of unfettered industrial capitalism. With the fellowship award, Lunden says she will spend the first three months of 2019 working on her book, carrying it through to completion.
* Jan Owen of Belfast — craft arts: Owen moved to Bangor in the late 1970s and worked as a graphic designer and calligrapher; she also played string bass with the Bangor Symphony Orchestra. Soon thereafter she began making handmade books and panels. Her books are often created on textured, handmade paper or scrolls on translucent polyester, luring the viewer with color, pattern, texture or a brush mark. Owen currently resides in Belfast, where she continues to work as a letter and book artist.
* Daniel Sonenberg of Portland — performing arts: Composer Sonenberg appreciates the different styles and genres of music that have inspired him throughout his life. Fortunately, he says, the multiplicity that defines his art is more in vogue today, which is something that has helped him resolve what he calls a “musical split personality crisis.” Drawing from an eclectic array of musical genres, Sonenberg composed “The Summer King” in 2014. The opera was first developed and presented in a concert performance in Portland. Three years later The Summer King was revised for a world premiere at the Pittsburg Opera. In the last several years, Daniel has written two operas and released two albums and an e.p. of rock music, as well as numerous other works of chamber music. Having lived in Portland Maine for 15 years, Dan says he sees a remarkable level of professional creative activity and is awe inspired by the work of his colleagues across the performing arts.
* Thomas Willey of Southwest Harbor — media arts: A lifetime resident of Southwest Harbor, Willey’s work has included camera operating in the Motion Picture and Television industry since 1990. While he has traveled the world over for many a grand film project, Willey says he really enjoys producing small documentaries of local importance. Willey’s current film projects include an interactive for the Schoodic Marine Center on the health of the Gulf of Maine, and a documentary, “The Calvineers Movie,” centered around a Maine teacher, his junior scientists, and a Right Whale named Calvin.
For more information about the Maine Arts Commission’s programs and services, please visit www.MaineArts.com; follow the agency on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or contact the offices at 207-287-2724.
The Maine Arts Commission supports artists, arts organizations, educators, policy makers and community developers in advancing the arts in Maine. For more than 50 years, the commission has encouraged and stimulated public interest and participation in the cultural heritage and programs of our state; has worked to expand the state’s cultural resources; and has encouraged and assisted freedom of artistic expression for the well-being of the arts, to meet the needs and aspirations of persons in all parts of the state.