The Jack Pine Project

Crisis Meets Community Arts

The COVID-19 pandemic and shutdown has had deep effects on many aspects of life in Maine. Many people have suffered as a result, feeling everything from social isolation to economic insecurity to anxiety and depression. While everyone has been touched in some way, some groups have clearly been more affected than others, including those in health care, eldercare, education, and essential services, among others. There are also many vulnerable and at-risk populations, from the elderly and those with chronic illnesses to those living in institutions that are prone to outbreaks.

The arts are needed more than ever at a time like this. Arts can allow people to express their feelings and tell their stories in multiple ways, helping them to cope with and heal from traumas, including our current state of crisis. They can also document life in a community at a particular moment, leaving a rich and nuanced record for future generations that goes beyond news accounts and government reports.

The Jack Pine Project responds to the current crisis by connecting teachers in the arts with cohorts of students from around Maine. Through a series of workshops, Maine artists, musicians, writers and others will work with various groups to help them express their thoughts, feelings, concerns, and hopes for the future.

The title of the project is drawn from the Jack Pine, a species native to Maine that thrives in areas burnt by wildfire, needing the heat of fire to release its seeds. The image of a pine seedling emerging from burnt ground is emblematic of Maine’s reemergence from the COVID-19 pandemic and state of social crisis that we find ourselves in, and the role of the arts in this process.

The project is coordinated by the Maine Folklife Center at the University of Maine, with support from the university’s Hutchinson Center in Belfast. We are also partnering with the Belfast Creative Coalition, focusing on this area in the first phase of the project.

Call for Instructors

We are seeking artist-instructors to lead our workshops. Instructors should be experienced in their art form, and able to teach and mentor 5-15 students in an online format. The exact structure of workshops will be determined by project organizers in collaboration with instructors. If you are a potential instructor with artistic skills and teaching experience, and have an idea for a workshop, please CLICK ON THIS LINK for more information and to complete the form. Or contact us, and we will be happy to discuss your ideas.

Expression of Group Interest

We are seeking groups of students who would like to work with an instructor in a particular medium. Ideally, each cohort would consist of people in a similar occupation, circumstance, or location, all affected by the pandemic in some way. These are non-credit workshops, and there is no cost to participants. If you have an interest in organizing a group, please CLICK ON THIS LINK for more information and to complete a form. Whether you have a group already, or just an idea for one, we would be happy to discuss possibilities with you.

Contact Information

The Jack Pine Project is coordinated by Kreg Ettenger, Director of the Maine Folklife Center. You can email him at folklife@maine.edu, or call 207-581-1840. You can also learn more by contacting the UMaine Hutchinson Center in Belfast, by phone at 207-338-8000 or by email at hutchinsoncenter@maine.edu.

Supporting the Jack Pine Project

If you would like to support this project financially, an account has been created at the UMaine Foundation. You can make a donation by clicking on this link: http://our.umaine.edu/jackpine

To make a gift by check, please mail it to the UMaine Foundation, attention of Matt Mullen, at one of its two offices (Orono or Falmouth). The mailing addresses and other information can be found HERE. Please write “ME Folklife Center – Jack Pine Project” on the memo line. We thank you for your interest and support!

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