FEATURED ARTISTS

A POSSIBLE PRACTICE: SURRENDER MY SOFTNESS

JANAN ALEXANDRA [@laptitevaliserouge] is a Lebanese American poet currently based in Cyprus. As a queer writer of the Arab diaspora, much of her work explores the indeterminacies of language, identity, and belonging. Her work has received support from the Fulbright Program, the Martha’s Vineyard Institute for Creative Writing, the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, and the Bucknell Seminar for Younger Poets. In addition to writing, janan teaches, edits, and plays the fiddle in an old-time duo called Sweet May Dews. She has roots scattered in many places—Maine beloved among them. You can read some of janan’s recent work in Beloit Poetry Journal, Gulf Coast, Ploughshares, The Rumpus, Mizna, and elsewhere online and in print.

SERENA HIMMELFARB [@serenahimmelfarb] (they/ them) studied film and visual art at Hampshire College, and received their MFA at California Institute for the Arts. From 2019-2022, they were a Five College Assistant Visiting Professor of Art based at Hampshire College, where they taught Installation and Experimental Form, Painting, Drawing, Art & Politics, and a collaborative, interdisciplinary seminar, The Sound of Life.

Working with clay, construction materials and photography, IRINA SKORNYAKOVA [@ias.studio] is creating a space of androgynous time, from a past buried by layers of earthen strata or perhaps from a dystopian future. Born in Moscow and raised in the US, Skornyakova currently lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. Irina’s work is informed by her frequent moves as a child and navigating the dualities of being a first generation immigrant, stuck in the gray zone between two different cultures and histories.

STACEY TRAN (they/she) [@lunch_poems] is a queer Vietnamese American community organizer, author of Soap for the Dogs (Gramma, 2018), and creator of Tender Table, a project celebrating Black and Brown community by connecting and honoring our identities, traditions, joy, resilience, and fight for collective liberation through storytelling and food.

ARISA WHITE [@arisaawhite] is an assistant professor of English and Creative Writing at Colby College. She is the author of Who’s Your Daddy, co-editor of Home Is Where You Queer Your Heart, and co-author of Biddy Mason Speaks Up, the second book in the Fighting for Justice Series for young readers. As the creator of the Beautiful Things Project, Arisa curates poetic collaborations that center queer BIPOC narratives. She is a Cave Canem fellow and serves on the board of directors for Foglifter and Nomadic Press. To learn more about her other publications and projects, visit arisawhite.com.

GOLALEH YAZDANI [@golalehyazdani] is an interdisciplinary artist and educator based in Portland, Maine. Yazdani received her Master of Fine Arts at Maine College of Art. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Art in Tehran, Iran. Throughout her practice, Yazdani has exhibited in Tehran, Iran, and the United States of America in venues such as Boston University Art Galleries, SPACE, Able Baker Contemporary, among others. Mixed media is Yazdani’s language. She incorporates video, sculpture, stop motion animation, and performance in her work. Growing up in a conservative society with a dictatorial climate is a major influence on Yazdani’s studio practice. Yazdani talks about the suppression forced upon her family, friends, and classmates. She explores the traces of trauma and grief as the natural consequence of a broken community under such political and cultural conditions. Currently, Yazdani is a resident fellow at the Lunder Institute in Waterville, Maine.

A POSSIBLE PRACTICE: BELOVED APOCALYPSE

SAMAA ABDURRAQIB [@rahmah500] moved to Maine in 2010 to teach college students. By the time that job was over, she’d fallen in love with Maine and decided to stay for a bit. PhD school taught Samaa that words need to be researched and well-argued to be powerful, and she got very good at creating those kinds of words, but forgot how to write other kinds of words. After 15 years away from poetry and creative non-fiction, Samaa is trying to be brave once again.

RACHEL ALEXANDROU [@giantdaughter] is a Maine artist and forager. She has been putting on art feasts that feature foraged food for three years and foraging for over ten years. Her work is about the plants and the environments they inhabit, but also about relinquishing fear (of the unknown) through the act of discovery. By identifying, processing and eating wild plants, she offers her audience a way to connect to the wild world with pleasure instead of fear.

KENNY COLE [@mrkennycole] studied drawing at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, earning a B.F.A. in 1981. Upon graduation he was confronted with a burgeoning neo-expressionist art scene in New York City’s East Village, thus his work adopted an edgy, graphic, second-wave graffiti-like sensibility. He joined the planning committee of City Without Walls Gallery in 1983 and exhibited extensively in alternative spaces in and around New York City until moving to Maine in 1994. Here he has continued to exhibit in alternative spaces, has helped organize political art actions with the Union of Maine Visual Artists and served for 10 years on the board of directors at Waterfall Arts in Belfast. Cole was awarded the Spring Monhegan Island Artists Residency in 2012 and an Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation Grant in 2017. He will be showing new large gouache paintings on paper in December 2020 at Perimeter Gallery in Belfast, Maine.

EA KANE [@empress.eakane] is an artist living in Waterville, ME. Their work has appeared in The River30North, and Wanderlust Journal, and they were Alice James Books’ first ever Director’s Chair Fellow.

DEVON KELLEY-YURDIN [@____dky____] is an interdisciplinary artist, designer, educator, facilitator, cultural organizer, etc etc etc. They live on Abenaki/Wabanaki land in Portland, Maine. They are white, queer, nonbinary, jewish fey, elder-millenial from a middle-class background. Creativity, communication and logistical prowess, network-weaving, and baby whispering are currently their primary tools for community care and collective liberation.

MICHAEL LEWIS [@mighty_lark] is an artist and former New Yorker who currently works as a librarian and educator during the day. His work has undergone a number of metamorphoses, but now looks like a series of watercolors, collages, and zine projects exploring awareness of environment and interpersonal relationships.

NICOLE MANGANELLI [@radicalemprints] is a printmaker living in Portland, Maine. Her work focuses on themes of liberation, grief, intersectional feminism, typography, and collectivity. She is the creator of the #anticapitalistlovenotes print series and also the designer of the Printers’ Tarot: a 78-image tarot deck made entirely out of Garamond letterforms.

ANDY MAUERY [@andymauery] is a Maine-based visual artist whose current work often focuses on species endangered in New England, or those having some type of protected or rare status recognized by government entities. Her work has appeared in national and international exhibitions, including the Chaves de la Rosa Cultural Complex (Peru); MOBIUS in Boston; SPACES gallery in Cleveland; and 3S Artspace in Portsmouth, NH. She’s been the grateful recipient of several grants including an A.R.T. Fund Individual Award from Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, a Good Idea from the Maine Arts Commission, and an individual fellowship from The American-Scandinavian Foundation.

STEPHEN A. STRATTON [@papabear_81] is a writer who lives and works in Portland, Maine. He spends much of his time alongside his family, exploring the rich natural landscape of Maine. Stephen’s work is reflective of his queer/trans identity, and his journey to become a parent. His writing centers around themes of grief & loss, family, identity, and his evolving relationship to his body. 

A POSSIBLE PRACTICE: ETYMOLOGIES

CHELSEA ELLIS [@heychellisea] is a photographer and multidisciplinary artist who lives in Portland, Maine. She received her BA in photography from the University of Southern Maine in 2012. She most recently exhibited work at the Harlow Gallery’s juried art exhibition “Art2018” in Hallowell, Maine, and in the contemporary art series “Process” by AMPL Art Consulting in Portland. Ellis’ creative practice explores themes of mourning, ephemerality, anxiety and sensed-presence through combinations of object alteration, performance, body paint, and digital subtraction.

JESSICA TOWNES GEORGE [@ground_expanse] is an artist whose practice is grounded in sleeping on islands, reading poems, sun salutations, collecting things, giving things away, encouragement, exploring ecosystems, raising children, and movement. She explores her thoughts and dreams through painting, drawing, photographing, and writing. Jessica has a BFA in Painting/Photography from Rhode Island College and an MFA in Interdisciplinary Studio & Theory from the Maine College of Art (MECA).

KELSEY HALLIDAY JOHNSON [@plutobandit] (b. 1986, Philadelphia, she/her/hers) currently lives and works in Portland, ME. Using autobiographical and archival approaches, Johnson’s personal practice critically explores human perception, our evolving understanding of the verisimilitude and function of the photographic medium, and our mediated relationship to the landscape. Her work has been exhibited at organizations including Vox Populi, the Berman Museum of Art, the Delaware Art Museum, the Lucas Gallery at Princeton University, the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, Icebox Project Space, Delaware Contemporary, EXPO Chicago, and Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery at The University of the Arts. An alumna of the Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance at Wesleyan University, Johnson received her interdisciplinary MFA at the University of Pennsylvania with a certificate in Landscape Architecture and holds her bachelor’s degree in Art and Archaeology from Princeton University with a certificate in European Cultural Studies.

LAVENNZ OOI [@lavennzooi] was born on Penang island, northwest state of Malaysia. She grew up moving a lot within the island before she went south to Kuala Lumpur for her degree study, spent a few months in Malacca, stay another three years back in Penang and finally took a 8000 miles of flight to Maine, the pine tree state she’s called home since fall of 2013. Art has always been her favorite subject since her first year in school, which inspired her to draw from an early age. Regrettably, her relationship with painting was interrupted intermittently by all kinds hobbies as she grew up. Not until she was doing the last year of her engineering study, did she reconnect with her artist’s dream. Her works have appeared in various shows, in Greater Portland, Brooklyn, Los Angeles, and Vancouver. In 2018, she had her first solo show in Portland, Maine. Other than art, she lives for coffee, early morning, grey sky, snows, and rains.

MAI SNOW [@maisnowpaintings] was born in Perm, Russia. They were adopted by an American family at the age of 13. They received their BFA from Maine College of Art in 2013. They currently live in Austin, Texas where they are an MFA Candidate for 2020 at the University of Texas. Their work celebrates the soft and hard complexities of queer sexuality, gender, and the non-binary body. The central subject of their current work is the figure, which gestures toward the body as an entity that is both marked by sex and a marker of sex. They are interested in the question of the witness, and the relationship between the individual (personal) and the communal (political/historical). Their work also investigates the nature of body memory—specifically, how our physical and emotional selves carry trauma, pleasure, and desire and the ways that these three kinds of corporeal experiences/histories are inextricably linked to one another.

STEPHEN A. STRATTON [@papabear_81] is a writer who lives and works in Portland, Maine. He spends much of his time alongside his family, exploring the rich natural landscape of Maine. Stephen’s work is reflective of his queer/trans identity, and his journey to become a parent. His writing centers around themes of grief & loss, family, identity, and his evolving relationship to his body. 

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