In collaboration with the Bangor Land Trust, the Maine Humanities Council, and the Clement and Linda McGillicuddy Humanities Center, arts education students at the University of Maine are helping to improve food security for humans and wildlife in Maine by producing outreach materials for a project that introduces native berries, nuts, seeds and fruit plants into local preserves.

Through 2020 and 2021, students at Associate Professor of Arts Education Constant Albertson’s AED 474/574 Topics in Art Education Courses worked on community outreach material for the Bangor Land Trust’s Edible Landscape project, producing signage , lesson plans and illustrations related to the introduction of edible plants. to Bangor Land Trust preserves on the homeland of the Penobscot Nation, with the aim of increasing food sources for wildlife and humans, by encouraging consideration of our relationship with – and the responsibility to care for – the places in which they live.

Arts education students worked on original illustrations of edible plants commissioned by Kathy Pollard of Know Your Land Consulting, habitat specialist and Bangor Land Trust project coordinator. Several of these illustrations were then chosen to be digitized and composed as signage with labels in Penobscot and English that will appear around the lands of Bangor Land Trust. Penobscot Labels were handcrafted by Penobscot Elder and Language Guardian Carol Dana with the collaboration of Ann Pollard Ranco, a member of the Penobscot Tribe.

The signage, which will be installed in strategic places, is not just a simple decoration: it will help visitors to distinguish between edible and inedible plants and fruits that they might find during their travels.

Albertson explains, “Imagery is incredibly powerful in shaping our beliefs and, therefore, our behavior. We buy goods, vote for candidates and pick up our trash largely because of the images in our heads about what is right and good. This makes art education very important in creating the kind of society we aspire to build. ”

With this particular project, she adds, “the human community in the Bangor region suffers disproportionately from food insecurity, and the edible landscape will help address this. It is an honor to participate in this endeavor, and we are grateful for this opportunity to collaborate. ”

To complement their own art projects, which also included an educational brochure, t-shirts for volunteer planters and donors, and recipe cards explaining how visitors could use some of the introduced plants – like acorn flour – the students also directed a unit video of interdisciplinary and intercultural art courses specifically intended to address the outcomes specified in LD 295, the Maine law requiring the teaching of Wabanaki history and culture in public schools.

Originally, these lessons were to be taught on-site to children at the local college, but when on-site education ended in the first waves of the COVID-19 pandemic, arts education students shifted gears to record lessons that would use common materials that children and adolescents might have in their homes. These courses are available via YouTube and emphasize traditional Native American principles of sustainability now known as the Four Rs: relationship, reciprocity, respect and responsibility, principles which, the Trust emphasizes, have guided Wabanaki’s values ​​and decisions regarding the use of land and water and resource harvesting for over 15,000 years.

Project leader Pollard explains that “students in Prof. Albertson’s class will be able to incorporate into their work experience the ability to teach their own students that art can be a form of activism and awareness, as well as a community service. This represents ripple effects that could potentially reach a few generations and hundreds of Maine public school children. “

In addition, she adds, “the works of art and information produced by the students will be disseminated in the community at large, thus broadening the awareness of those who have never thought of the story that has. leads to the dispossession of land and resources by Aboriginal people. “

Kate Westhaver, a double major in Arts Education and Studio Art from Nobleboro, appreciated the opportunity to work with stakeholders outside of college. “I had never worked with an entity other than myself or my teachers when creating artistic products. So my class was working hard to provide the community with visual aids that would teach them what to eat! It was just a wonderful experience to create, edit, collaborate and edit again, until our product was as useful and clear as possible.

Westhaver, who graduated in the spring of 2021 and currently teaches adaptive art at Lincoln Academy, adds “It has been an extremely rewarding experience working directly with people who have the best intentions for their community and who effect positive change throughout. using the impact of visual arts. “

Contact Person: Brian Jansen, [email protected]