The Equinox Petroglyph Project   
    
The Artists,
           Bios and Statements


Home
History The Works Shows
About Us


Robin Rier
Helen Messemer Thomas
Margaret La Farge
Stephanie Francis
Ann Gommers
Leslie Bowman
Ann Pollard
Jude Valentine
Valerie Aponik
Portia Becker
Carol Hedden
Kathy Pollard
Gillyin Gatto
Katie MacGregor
Nan Bennett
Ellen Nicholas
Patricia Vinzani
Hazel Carter
Marie Francis
Romantha Burow
Elizabeth Spraque


Robin Rier
Born in 1948 in Providence RI, plein-air painter Robin S. Rier moved to Maine in 1976. She completed a boatbuilding program in Eastport in 1979, and experienced her first oil painting in 1987 at the University of Maine at Machias. She earned her B.A. in Interdisciplinary Fine Arts with a concentration in Visual Arts.  Robin resides in Jonesport.

The whale shaped rock that holds the ancient markings of the Passamaquoddy Tribe is so dynamic that all I want to do is lie upon and sink into it. The warm red colors spread over its back, cracks run deep, and worn scars tell a story. Petroglyphs are proof of a sacred place. Surrounding this phenomenon, the ocean tide ebbs and floods, the winds puff and rage, the sun and moon shine, the grasses and berries grow, and animals gaze. Other rocks decorate the shore, gather together and split apart.

My inspiration for these paintings came from a group of rocks nearby. Perhaps the women came back to protect the petroglyphs. It was as if they were saying, “We are strong, we are here.”

As I progressed through the paintings it became important to me to remember the people who lived on this land, now called “Picture Rocks”, and to imagine them as families
www.robinrier.com
robin@mgemaine.com


Helen Messemer Thomas

Helen Messemer-Thomas is an artist residing in Jonesport, Maine where she has her studio. She has been painting and exhibiting her work in the United States and abroad for the past 32 years. She is a graduate of Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), Painting major.

The symbols surrounding the painting are drawn from Passamaquoddy, and Abenaki influences. The icons are taken from various artifacts and represent “remembering, heritage, water, home, and teepee.” The icons are based on museum artifacts know to be staples of early Native American culture necessary for tribe livelihood in this region, the wigwam, hard shell clam, mussels, berries, birch bark baskets, and agriculture. The double curve design which is repeated throughout the painting is a well known symbol for the Native American of this region, symbolizing balance in all things.
www.looncovestudio.com
hlnmessemer@yahoo.com


Margaret La Farge
I grew up in southern New England and moved to Machias, ME in 1981 with my family. After earning a BFA at the Rhode Island School of Design in sculpture and later an individualized M. Ed from the University of Maine, Orono, I worked as a free-lance illustrator and as a part-time teacher while raising a family. I returned to the studio full-time in 2004 when our children had graduated from college. Both drawing and watercolor paintings have become my primary media for personal work.

Sitting quietly on the bank, waiting for the dawn light to warm the weathered ledges and glacial strewn boulders of the Machias Bay petroglyphs, I am caught up in an amazing sequence of color moments. It is that first light when the petroglyphs, dinted into the ledges, become visible, and I get up for a closer look and contemplate past and present and the interconnection of all living and non-living beings. My detailed and carefully rendered images seek to capture the beauty and spirit of place and celebrate the spectrum of color within nature.
www.lafargestudio.com
margaret@lafargestudio.com

Kathy Pollard
Kathy Pollard is a self taught basketmaker, sculptor and artist of Irish, German, English, and Cherokee descent. In this series she explores the universal connections among all people, through media that honor her Indian heritage. She gathers sweetgrass from marshes in Down East, Maine, and birch bark from woodlots where harvested trees await transport to mills. Many other natural materials are used in her work, including traditional Cherokee plants such as black walnut and bloodroot for stains and dye. Born on a Navy base in southern Maryland, Kathy has made her home in Orono, Maine, for more than twenty years. 

The Maine Indian petroglyphs comprise a rare and extraordinary form of documentation of lives lived thousands of years ago in the Northeast. They embody what it means to be human in a given place and time, and still emanate the pulse of life and living, the raw tug of war between birthing and dying, the juxtapositions of sacred and mundane. I hope my interpretive reproductions of these works convey some of their power and poignant beauty, and I offer them in honor the artists who first made them--and to celebrate the miracle of those cultures' continued existence today.
kpollard2@roadrunner.com

Ann Gommers
At this point in my life, I am most fulfilled by painting. After having worked in a variety of different mediums and in other careers the call to paint has never left me. Educated in studio art and art history at the University of Denver (B.F.A.), Colorado, the University of Copenhagen, Denmark and the Rhode Island School of Design, I now live in Machiasport, Maine and paint as often as I can in my studio there.

As a young girl I felt the magic of Picture Rocks intuitively yet, not until I was an adult did I fully understand their sacred power. There is an energy at the Picture Rock that moves me each time I am in its presence. It is a powerful and all encompassing pull that I feel when I am there. According to Passamaquoddy legend, upon death we move towards Great Spirit with lightening speed, it is this speed and pull I attempt to depict. I believe my Passamaquoddy ancestry helps me “see” animals and spirits in clouds, tree trunks and rocks. I apply multiple layers of color to render these images and attempt to capture the constantly changing colors of the Rocks caused by wind that can exceed 50 miles per hour, light and tidal movements of over 14 feet.   

www.anngommers.com
annietbi@hotmail.com


Nan Bennett
A classically trained pianist, I moved to Downeast Maine in 1967.   In the mid 70’s began improvising at my studio in Cutler.  In the 80’s gave numerous performances in the U.S. and Canada sponsored by the Maine Commission on Arts and Humanities and the Cultural Alliance. 
At Washington County schools I gave performance/lectures with UMM Prof. Gene Nichols.  Accompanied modern dance groups in Greece and the U.S.  In the 90’s conducted workshops in San Diego, Toronto and Chania, Greece. 
I am a founding member of “Les Etoiles”, an improvisational music group.

Music is the most ancient of the arts – a subtle, powerful medium expressing, communicating human emotion with its non-verbal message.  The rythyms and sounds of primitive instruments have had a profound effect on my music. Native American culture is especially compelling and relevant considering our modern day disconnection from the earth. 
The Passamoquoddy petroglyphs were created thousands of years ago. My improvisational narrative honors these sacred images.



Stephanie Francis
I grew up most of my life on the Passamaquoddy reservation named Sipayik. My parents, Melvin Francis and Mary Alberta Nicholas and my grandparents, Joseph Nicholas and Alice Mitchell-Nicholas taught me to respect all people, to see from all sides, and to share. When I went back to college after working for ten years as a homemaker for the elders and the disabled, I attended an art class and found an outlet for expressing myself. My father was an artist and a major influence on my decision to pursue the art field. It was my way of reconnecting with him and also reconnecting with my heritage. My preferred media are printmaking and photography. I am a senior now at UMM in Fine Arts. As a Passamaquoddy woman, my heritage is the driving force behind the work that I do.

It is time now for the women and children to tell their story. My photo titled neqoloqessu is attributed to my father who is now an ancestor and my print titled uhkomossol is attributed to my grandmother who is also an ancestor. Picture rocks is a place that I go to reconnect with both of them and their grandmothers and grandfathers.
stephanie.francis@maine.edu

Patricia Vinzani
I am Patty Vinzani. Born in Bangor, Maine, I was raised on the banks of the Stillwater River. I graduated from UMM with an English degree and a minor in Art. I live with my husband, children, dog, cat chickens, and ducks in Whiting. My favorite pastimes are gardening, hiking, reading, and beachcombing; invariably those experiences converge in my art.

What I can't share through words, art expresses. I'm most content when interacting with Nature, my cherished, constant companion, who connects me with our ancient mothers. All of us share the same stream of life – drops of water create mighty rivers and great seas – cycling back as clouds, to begin again, recollected as drops of water.

The Point resonates with energy; it speaks in peace and self-reflection. There the autumnal equinox glistened as we shared our honored sisterhood of creativity.

The People are still there and spoke to me. I received a living, breathing image. A mother who loved her babies and cared for her family trusted me to tell her story.



Ellen Nicholas
I am a twenty-year-old, female, Native-American, artist. I attend the University of Maine at Machias with a major in Fine Arts with a concentration in the Visual Arts. I have lived on Sipayik Reservation my entire life and will always have a love for these shores.

(for painting)  The medium is watercolour. Being a landscape artist, I thought it best to capture Picture Rock as it was. Picture Rock has a beauty of its own. The various colors of the rocks astonished me. The hues ranged from grey to pink like the rock had its very own essence. The Passamaquoddy woman that I am sought fit to include the pecking of the Shaman. Despite the cracking of the rock and the wearing of the other peckings at the site, it is amazing that the shaman still seems to glow from the hottest fires under the equinox sun.

(for story) The idea to write this came to me when another woman at the petroglyph site informed me that she had heard that the site may have been a birthing pool. I wanted to include the peckings, especially the one of the shaman. This pecking really grasps my interest. Its geometric shape reminds me so much of a bird that I wonder if it may have been a shaman in eagle form. I am no historian and the story is purely fictional, and is solely in my perspective and imagination.

ellen.nicholas@maine.edu

Hazel Carter
Born 1939 in Bar Harbor, Maine.  From 1959 to 1983 she was a cosmetologist.  A self taught artist, Hazel learned to paint in oil, but watercolor is her medium. She enjoys painting land and seascapes "en Plein air".  Her Blueheron Art Gallery/Studio is located in Harrington, Maine.
Hazel has private collectors in The United States, Canada, and Europe.

It is a crisp, breath taking fall day, blue skies and the smell of leaves and berries drift on the salt air.  As I walk down the path that leads to the petroglyphs, I pass the sweat lodge and stopping briefly, I think of the many times the Native American went this way to the shore.  I stood in awe, inspired by the beautiful sacred images, that were pecked into the multi-colored rocks of orange, a color that changes with the incoming tide, but the message stays the same, forever.

blueheron57@verizon.net

Katie MacGregor
I grew up in the plains of Iowa.  I received a B.A. from Beloit College, Beloit, WI.  I was a drawing major with an education degree. I moved to Maine in my early 20’s for the love of the place and the landscape. I left Maine briefly to study hand papermaking in Indiana.  I returned to Maine in 1982.  I’ve been a self-employed artist/papermaker ever since.

The play of light on structures, whether in landscape or interior space, has always intrigued me. I enjoy the relationships between paper, my medium of choice and subject matter.  In my everyday work I am a papermaker.  I dip sheets, work with color and fibers to create a surface for holding marks. There’s a special intimacy between the surface and the artist. As I layer the surface with paint, pencil, pastel, charcoal, pulp and collage, I experience the building of a drawing.  I like creating series or repetitions of my subject matter.  The repetition of drawing a subject over and over helps me know it in a formal/literal sense and eventually an intuitive abstracted form evolves.  I love the transition into my intuitive understanding of an object, space or light. 
    
kmpaper@midmaine.com

Leslie Bowman
Leslie Bowman is a photographer and painter. For over thirty years the people and the landscape of downeast Maine have been her inspiration.

On each visit to the petroglyphs, I discover new elements of visual delight and am also struck by the play of water, sun and wind. So many layers of experience are recorded. As a traveler and photographer, I am not unlike the visitors thousands of years ago. My work is a collection of the images recorded through out the Gulf of Maine watershed that make reference to our connection to the natural world, be it a calligraphic arrangement of natural forms or human ordered objects juxtaposed in the wild.
www.bowmanstudio.net

Ann Pollard
Ann Pollard-Ranco is a member of the Penobscot Nation. She is also part Cherokee and Maliseet, as well as having Irish, English, German, and Dutch ancestry. She likes to work with wood and paint in Acrylics, depicting natural scenes and Native American themes. Ann has been going to Picture Rocks since before she was born, and has always felt a very special connection to the site. She hopes that through her artwork viewers will get a sense of the remarkable beauty of Picture Rocks and the petroglyphs.

For the Equinox Petroglyph Project, I decided to create a series of large drums. I started with a log of white cedar, carefully stripped it of its bark, then hollowed it out. Moose rawhide covers the top and bottom of the drum, and the drum rests on a hand made stand. The drum is decorated with images of the petroglyphs from Machias Bay which are pecked into its sides, and colored with black walnut and blood root stains that I made from gathered materials.


Marie Francis
The writing bug bit me at an early age even though I was diagnosed with dyslexia as a young girl. This affected my encoding and retention memory. I worked hard to overcome my difference. I learned my gift of free flow writing in high school that streamed from a higher consciousness.




Jude Valentine
A long-time resident of Maine, Jude Valentine completed her BFA at the Maine College of Art and MFA from Vermont College. She has received numerous awards for her work including a Jerome Foundation Fellowship. Currently, she is a member of the Interdisciplinary Fine Arts faculty at the University of Maine in Machias and project director for CulturePass, [www.culturepass.net] a project of the Tides Institute and Museum of Art in Eastport, Maine.

These pieces are created in response to being present at the Picture Rocks in Machiasport, Maine at pivotal days of annual seasonal change. They are inspired by an unchanging sense of time, the pull of the Atlantic tide and weight of ancestral memory that are present at this sacred Passamaquoddy coastal site. The images allude to space/time, navigation, astronomy, celestial divination, and the petroglyphs found on the rocks as metaphor for personal transformation. The works consider the landscape as a surface and an interface where unseen forces meet and interact. Successive image layers create effects relating to the layers of memory and response built into and upon this landscape. These images map out the sense of another order at work and represent a personal iconography of response to place that includes the numinous and secular, the individual and collective—the joining of a micro and macrocosmic perspective.

www.judevalentine.com
info@judevalentine.com

Valerie Aponik

Valerie Aponik works from her home on Great Wass Island, Maine.

She works with oil and paints en plein air in the tradition of the impressionists.  Aponik's work can be found in galleries and private and corporate collections.

Visiting the petroglyphs  I felt the earth itself tugging at my brush.  The warm color in the rock against the cool snow and water reminded me that I was witness to the Winter Solstice.   The fox footprints reminded me that I am a part of a living landscape.

I imagine the artists of the petroglyphs using stone to create a response to their own time.  Who knows how another may share your vision??
By sharing my creations I also give evidence--I existed--I was here for a moment.

www.aponikart.com
aponik@prexar.com


Gillyin Gatto
Gillyin Gatto is an unreformed, tree hugging, back-to-the-land artist/writer, rabbit raiser who chose the Kennebec Woods of Machias as her home.
She has created her own reality here by carving , writing , gardening and building, relentlessly, for 35 years. She is usually found tramping her 48 acres woods and beyond with her dog.

A sixty foot boulder , in an oak and pine forest, named 'The High Rock" was my first playground . When quite young I believed that a "man" lived inside the rock and placed thoughts inside my head . Trees and birds also told me things . I remember staring at a huge red/yellow/black snake , feeling not frightened , but fascinated . So much so , that later on I chose to live in a forest . I need to be where no car goes by . I take my artistic inspiration from nature , and let the grain of the wood I carve and print , speak for me .

rst-art.com/gattowoodcuts.htm
bobcatpath@207me.com

Romantha Burow
Born in Milo, Maine, Thea is an art teacher.  She has also taught English, Earth Science  and TV Production.  She was an officer in the navy.  She does felting workshops throughout the North East.

I enjoy felting and making tapestries because they provide me with a connection with the past.  They’re ancient arts that have been practiced for hundreds of years.  A child of depression-era parents, I also find rewards in the waste-free and environmentally friendly processes that go into making felts.  Raw or recycled materials in one piece can date from a span of generations.
Like the creators of the petroglyphs, the majority of my art is inspired by nature.  Most works are my direct response to something that I have seen, or a relationship that I have felt, and want to convey to the viewer. 

www.romanthaburow.com
romanthaburow@yahoo.com


Portia Becker
After a car accident ended a lifelong dream of figure skating, I found myself physically disabled but began to channel my creative abilities elsewhere; in art. While attending Loyola University in New Orleans, my eyes were opened to the social injustices that occurred during Hurricane Katrina and continue to occur I have dabbled in painting with the hopes of following in my grandmother's and mother's footsteps, but I have felt most comfortable with photography and writing in recent years.

Spending summers at Picture Rocks with my family, I have always felt a close connection to this land and to my early memories of playing on the Rocks and summoning ancient spirits. I cling to my native roots and Passamaquoddy heritage hoping it will guide me in life’s labyrinth and am eager to be involved in the revitalization of the petroglyphs. The silence on the waterfront is deafening when I imagine all the past times of tribes. I feel most connected to nature while by the rocks listening to the water. I feel drawn to the animals nearby and I think they were put on the land to protect it. As human presence only grows, it is our duty to protect the message of the spirits. I believe art is a key method in doing so.



Elizabeth Spraque

Elizabeth Sprague earned her MFA in Creative Writing at Mills College and was twice awarded the Reinhardt Prize for Fiction.  She has been Co-Director of the Bay Area Writers’ Workshop and an editor at Fish Stories. Elizabeth lives in East Machias and teaches fiction writing locally.  She has published in The Walrus and Bakunin. 

I grew up in Starboard village, a few miles from the petroglyphs in Machiasport.  Long having been fascinated by petroglyphs of all kinds, I first saw the carvings in the Fall of 2007.  The picture rock appeared to rise out of the beach and pause there – an evocative fusion of the permanent and the temporary.  Its sister, the standing stone, had only recently split herself into three pieces.  I could barely pull my eyes away.  My contribution to The Equinox Petroglyph Project endeavors to give language to the images and sounds I’ve held since that day.
elizabeth.spraque@mgemaine.com

Carol Hedden

My name is Carol Hedden.  I’m a handweaver  (WOVEN  FLOOR) and musician living and working in Vienna, Maine.

In 1977, my husband, Mark Hedden, an archaeologist, obtained a small grant from the Maine State Museum to record  Native American petroglyphs at Embden and Machias Bay, the only locations known at the time.  I was asked to do rubbings, using a technique called “surface printing”.  At Machias Bay, the imagery came out in sharp detail against the grooved scars of glacial striations left by the last Ice Age.

    I remember  the relentless sound of the sea, it’s taste and smell and the bleaching sun.  Also the pain of rock pressing against my knees.  But what started as effort, ended in homage, as I knelt down over and over again to do the work.

carolhedden@gwi.net