Welcome to the Department of Art

The Department of Art at the University of Maine offers dynamic, interdisciplinary programs in a challenging and supportive environment for more than 140 majors, 80 minors and numerous non-majors. These programs include the B.A. in History of Art, Art Education, and Studio Art, as well as the B.F.A. in Studio Art, along with Minors in Graphic Design, Studio Art, and Art History, all fully accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. The Department balances a need for a strong foundation in the liberal arts and sciences with intensive study in the visual arts.

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Professor emeritus of art Michael Lewis passes away

The University of Maine community and the art world are mourning the loss of longtime UMaine professor emeritus of art Michael H. Lewis, who passed away June 27 after a long illness. He was 79.

Lewis was 25 when he joined UMaine’s then three-member Art Department in 1966, led by founder Vincent Hartgen. Lewis, a Brooklyn, New York native, said in a 2016 interview prior to his retirement that he and his wife, May, came to Maine never intending to stay — they just never found a reason to leave.

Lewis was instrumental in helping set the foundation for UMaine’s professional Department of Art as a vigorous place to learn from artists and scholars. During his time at UMaine, Lewis not only taught painting and drawing courses, but also mentored students and faculty alike, and served as department chair and associate dean. 

As an artist, he created an innovative, ever-evolving body of paintings and drawings exhibited in Maine and beyond. His paintings, including those in his signature turpentine wash, are in private collections and museums across the country and in far corners of the world.

Personally and professionally, Lewis pursued greater understanding of mysticism and spirituality. He used landscapes as a medium to explore and enlighten, reflecting the effect of Maine on his subconscious.

Painting and teaching were Lewis’ parallel passions. He once described his role in the classroom for more than a half-century as that of a “provocateur,” empowering students to stretch their imaginations. His message to generations of students he taught and mentored: Do what you love. Believe that your work will inspire others. Support creativity and keep making art. 

He touched the hearts and minds of countless people through his art and teaching. He will be deeply missed by his colleagues, students and family.