I am blessed to live and work in rural Maine. My work as an art instructor brings me to a small town high school placed right "smack dab" in between two farms. On one side is primarily horses and corn fields, while on the other is a cow pasture. As you can imagine, each day comes with its own varying levels of odor, something that I have come to find comfort in, for some strange reason.
A great example of daily life in our neighborhood is this picture, taken right down the road at our local "Family Dollah" (published in an article on Buzzfeed).
Is is simply not surprising here to see something like this. The cow wandered over from another farm across the road (yes, there is another one, or two - across the road). The nice thing is, everyone knows pretty much everyone here, and the cow was quickly guided home.
Teaching art to young people here is an interesting and rewarding endeavor. While I love teaching my adult classes for other reasons, helping kids connect art to the things that they love and enjoy provides for plenty of amusing, enlightening, and sometimes odd moments. Watching them maneuver through four years of trying to make sense of the world from their tiny little small town "bubble" can be both painful and wonderful. Here are some of the things that I find special or unique:
* There is designated "snowmobile parking" in our parking lot
* The highest honor senior year is not prom king and queen, but rather, "bub-guy" and "bub-girl". This is often determined by who has the biggest, most lifted, noisiest truck, while also looking good in camo and shit-kicker boots (or flannel occasionally). It is a bonus to hunt as many types of game as possible, but that doesn't always determine the winner. While I know that this is a stereotype, please understand that I am lovingly joking about something that my kiddos truly do have pride in.
* This is still a dry town. Yep, that means no alcohol! It's a good thing that several pot stores have popped up since cannabis became legalized. I think that was an unforseen loophole...
* Last week, one of my students drove his riding lawnmower to school, just to see if it would make it. This may not seem like a big thing, but he lives about 13 miles away, which means he left his house at 4:00 in the morning in order to arrive by 7:30. The nice thing is, he didn't get lonely during this long, tedious drive, because he had a buddy in a wagon connected to the back.
* Finally, I love the unexpected ideas that come to life in their art. I allow a lot of choice, so the outcomes are very diverse. One of my favorites recently is this cardboard sculpture, created, coincidentally, the same kid that piloted the lawnmower.
And then this one done by a very talented and visionary model-maker. He has created detailed models such as this one of a lakeside cabin:
Finally, I have a talented sculptor. She created this one, with intricate details cut into the arms and feet.
I never know what to expect, and that is a big part of what keeps me going back to the classroom.
Maine is an amazing place, with aesthetic beauty and genuine people. If you travel the state, the culture and perspectives of the people may vary, but they will always be real. I look forward to exploring more of this as I create and learn through my art. I hope you will check back from time to time to see what happens next!