Art in the Capitol Special Exhibit: Painting Islands: Uniting Community with Art

Moores Harbor, Isle-au-Haut. Photograph by Howie Motenko.

Moores Harbor, Isle-au-Haut. Photograph by Howie Motenko.

The Maine Arts Commission is pleased to announce the opening of a special exhibit in its Art in the Capitol program. “Painting Islands: Uniting Community with Art” by Maine photographer Howie Motenko explores collaborative art using the photographic technique of light painting on all 15 of Maine’s un-bridged, year-round islands. The exhibit is free to the public and on display until June 30, 2017 on the second floor of the State House in the Governor’s Reception area.
“We selected these photographs to showcase Maine’s rich island heritage, and the ways in which the arts can bring communities together,” said Julie Horn, the Visual Arts Program Director for the Maine Arts Commission and the curator for Art in the Capitol. “These photos are lush with color and light and bring attention to one of Maine’s provincial regions, which makes them a perfect fit for the Governor’s Reception area.”
Motenko’s mission in the “Painting Islands” project, funded in part by the Maine Arts Commission, was to create participatory art with each island community through the medium of light painting photography. The result is 15 highly color saturated, archival pigment prints that represent Maine’s island community’s choices of images that best represent them. For a full year beginning in June of 2015, Motenko, working in partnership with the Maine Seacoast Mission and the Island Institute, visited, discussed and documented each island. The artistic collaboration began with island residents selecting a subject that resonated most strongly with their community. Next, at dusk, island volunteers “light painted” their self-selected scene with flashlights to complete the artistic collaboration: they illuminated the most significant image of their community while Motenko created a long-exposure photograph of it during the blue hour. The relationship of the artist’s vision and the islanders’ combined illumination created a glowing image reflecting each island’s unique identity and collective values. The project is designed to create a stronger sense of community for each island. To learn more about this project please visit www.paintingislands.com.

Swans Island Quarry. Photograph by Howie Motenko.

Swans Island Quarry. Photograph by Howie Motenko.

“Everyone who takes part in creating an image like this can feel proud,” Motenko said in The Mount Desert Islander earlier this year. “I know that the people who shine flashlights will remember exactly where they were and what they lit that night.”
Photographer Howie Motenko is a resident of Mount Desert Island who has spent the past nine years photographing Acadia National Park and local area. He says that “Travel and landscape photography are in my blood,” and has visited six continents, 30 countries and 26 states. Additional projects have included “Painting Bridges: Uniting Community with Art,” studies of the carriage road bridges at Acadia National Park, and Acadia Photo Safari.
The Art in the Capitol program features rotating exhibits throughout the Capitol Complex and offers an additional venue to expand the audiences for Maine artists or artists working in Maine on Maine-based themes. Exhibitions are self-guided and may be viewed during the building hours where the exhibition is on display. Building hours: Maine Arts Commission Office 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday; State House and Burton M. Cross Buildings 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. To learn more about the Art in the Capitol Program please contact Julie Horn at julie.horn@maine.gov or 207-287-2713.

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