University of Maine students will be able to create sculptures more easily, quickly and safely thanks to the parents of a recent graduate who made a gift to the art department for the purchase of a high-tech saw equipped with a sensor that automatically shuts the machine off when a potentially unsafe material is detected.
Delighted with the education their son Peter ’07 received at UMaine, Mary Ruth and Peter Hedstrom of Yarmouth decided to give a gift in honor of Associate Art Professor Andrea Mauery and Sculpture Technician and Assistant Professor Gregory Ondo.
“We were so impressed with both Andy and Greg and how they inspire students to find their own way,” said Mary Ruth Hedstrom, who is an artist herself.
“They were instrumental in helping Peter develop an existing interest and trust his own vision. He told us he was totally immersed in his work. Because of Peter’s rich experience in the art department at UMaine, and out of respect for the role of the teachers, we wanted to give them something in return.”
The Hedstroms’ generosity is greatly appreciated, said Professor Susan Groce, chair of the Art Department. “Every private donation such as this makes a huge difference to our program.”
She added, “I know Greg Ondo and Andy Mauery are very excited about what this saw can do in terms of teaching, production and safety.”
The new saw is indeed a welcome addition to the sculpture studio, according to the teachers, who had been asked by Peter what piece of equipment they most needed. “It’s nice to have that extra level of safety in place for students. It’s important for them as artists to learn how to take care of themselves as well as their materials,” said Professor Mauery, adding that the gift came as a huge surprise.
“It’s really unusual at the college level to hear from parents in such an amazing way.”
Peter, who plans to attend the Rhode Island School of Design in the fall to pursue a Master’s of Fine Arts degree in furniture design, transferred to UMaine as a junior and changed his major from English Literature to Studio Art. Described by his teachers as a self motivator and an avid reader, he was awarded a scholarship to study at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle where he learned the steam bending techniques he frequently employed in his UMaine art projects. His senior art exhibit, which included numerous wooden sculptures inspired by the techniques, received much praise.
“Peter found the right environment,” said his mother. “His teachers allowed him to find his own way. It was an unbelievable gift.”
Image Description: Peter Hedstrom '07 works on a boat, one of his art projects that he sculpted using the techniques he learned at Haystack Mountain School