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The Maine Experience

The Maine Experience:

Bloomsburg State College Summer Art Classes at Moosehead Lake, 1975-1979

 

Brochure cover from 1975


This online exhibit is intended as a means of documenting the history of the Bloomsburg State Collegeart classes that traveled to Maine during summers in the 1970s to better learn the art of painting and drawing. In the spring of 1974, art professor Ken Wilson proposed an intensive 6 weeks summer course for students who would live, eat, and breathe art in the woods of Maine. 

The students would live together, immerse themselves in nature and develop their skills to a new level. The course was approved and in the summer of 1975, the first students went up to a ski lodge near Moosehead Lake, Maine where they are and slept while sharing cooking and cleaning responsibilities. Just down the road at a nearby farm, they used a remodeled chicken coop as an art studio where they created work inspired by their environment. Throughout the week, Ken Wilson guided the students as they painted and each friday, they would critique each other's work as their skills grew and developed.

This course was offered for three summers and it gave 28 Bloomsburg art students a chance to do what they enjoyed most; to paint, to draw, and to create objects of beauty. But, it wasn't all just work. They also swam, hiked, clibed, fished, canoed, went moose watching, and took full advantage of what the Maine wilderness offered. These 6 weeks were an important part of their education and it enriched their lives. 

This website attempts to show some of that as well as the art that came out of the experience. The online exhibit includes photographs, brochures, correspondence, flyers, maps, clippings, paintings, and drawings. These physical items provide an historical records of a wonderful time in the lives of the students, which will live forever in their memories. 

Robert Dunkelberger, Bloomsburg University Archivist


Introduction

Ken Wilson

 

This project started when Robert Dunkelberger, University Archivist, asked me identify some photos he had from the 1975 painting and drawing class in Maine. As the search for the names of 1975 continued, my wife Dorothy found slides from the other two classes -1976 and 1979, and then I found a folder with more information on the courses.  Many letters were written to all whose addresses were available, and then these alumni answered with names and addresses.  At this point the project became a medium that revived good memories of the years I taught classes in painting and drawing for Bloomsburg State College at Moosehead Lake.

While living and painting in this part of Maine, students were able to focus upon the uniqueness of the woods in the Moosehead Lake region and discover their own personal style.  They lived in a co-ed ski lodge and shared the cooking of meals and cleaning responsibilities.  They even provided their own musical entertainment with guitars.  This experience fostered a great outpouring of paintings and drawing: personal reflections on the primitive richness of the Moosehead Lake area.  Throughout the week I would arrive to critique their work and find notes such as "go down the dirt road until you find a bandanna tied to a pine - then walk directly down to the stream to find me."  Friday we held a critique of the work and then a big lunch was served afterwards.  The artwork was exhibited in the main dining room during the end of the session and later in the Gallery on campus.  Several pieces were purchased for the College's Permanent Art Collection.  My good memories of this era were strengthened after I began to receive many wonderful responses from those I was able to reach by letter or email.  They still remember the time spent there and felt that it was an important part of their education as well as an enrichment to their lives.  It was a very rich experience for me as well.

I would like to thank Dorothy for her help with this project as well as her enthusiasm during the time the art courses were offered.  This included welcoming the students to our place for meals, canoe lessons, and during 1979 assisting with the graduation ceremony for seniors who were missing the summer graduation on campus.  Birch bark diplomas and gowns were made for those involved to bring a level of academia to the ceremony as we marched across the dock on the shore of Moosehead Lake.  Richard Wolfe, at that time Director of Extended Programs, approved the idea of the courses with enthusiasm and came up to visit the site before we started.  His support was very crucial at the beginning and I am grateful for his role.

Also thanks to those on campus who were involved in getting the information for this project - Ken Schnure, Registrar; Doug Hippenstiel, Director of Alumni Affairs, and Robert Dunkelberger, University Archivist.

 

Ken Wilson
Professor Emeritus

 

The Exhibit


This exhibit is dedicated to the memory of 2 art students whose lives ended far too soon. 

Those who knew them will never forget them.

Diane Marie Tedeschi Kulevich, 1955 - 1990

William Michael McGraw, 1957 - 1997

 

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