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Shannon Bryan

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Posted: May 30, 2013

Portland’s most fashionable workplaces: MECA

Written by: Shannon Bryan

If you’re working at an art school, chances are you’re a creative sort. Those artistic tendencies are evident in the classroom – on canvas or on cloth, in metal or in paint. They’re also often evident in your wardrobe.

The staff at Maine College of Art, aka MECA, isn’t hindered by the mundane khakis and personality-less button-up shirts that plague many offices. Artistic license reigns here. Personal expression? That, too. The hallways at MECA see colorful brooches and patterned skirts, shiny blue shoes and tees decked with cassettes, or head-to-toe black with just a hint of white birds – and that’s just the people who work there.

[Photos by Claire Jeffers | Design by Pete Vachon]

Ian Anderson

Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the College
Hailing from: Westbrook, ME (The Brooklyn of Portland)
His style: I try not to think about (my own) style very much. It becomes artifice too fast. Between art and anthropology I’m over-aware that clothing is deeply culturally coded. (Or it may be simply that being a southerner/artist who grew up in the “moonshine capital of the world” and who now lives far above the Mason-Dixon line has left me disoriented.) I have been lucky to be around artists (or other “freaks”) for most of my life who either dismiss these codes, subvert and rearrange them, or do both in some way. In my current position I have fewer choices; so I’ve been embracing more “formal” clothing — it’s one part practicality, one part job demand, and one part total irony since I mortified my parents for years with completely inappropriate occasion-specific clothing.
Where he shops: I literally don’t shop for clothes and find the process basically intolerable. I’m an impatient bully if I have to try something on. Usually, people see cheap things (under $5 at flea markets, goodwill, etc.) they think I might like and buy them for me. My wife has great style and color sense and facilitates anything that costs “real” money. I am embarrassingly mid 1950s in that regard. I am a cheapskate so this usually results in binge purchases. In writing this I’m realizing that I’m mostly focused on stylistic visual bookends (hats, socks, and shoes, etc.). If I could wear a uniform and just switch out the hats, socks, shoes I probably would.
If you were posing as a nude model, what one favorite piece of clothing/fashion accessory would you keep on?
A Dean of the College who wants to keep his job would not answer this question.

Jessica Tomlinson

Director of Artists at Work
Her style: I am inspired by kindergarteners. I wear what I like.
Where she shops: Corey + Co. (Portland) and Goodwill
One item of clothing for nude modeling:
A good chapeau.

Beth Taylor

Asst. Director of Marketing & Design
Hailing from: Portland, ME
Her style: Clothes are fun and should be comfortable. I like colors and patterns. That’s about it.
Where she shops: Material Objects (Portland), J.Crew Factory Store, My sewing machine.
If you were posing as a nude model, what one favorite piece of clothing/fashion accessory would you keep on?
Boots. Duh.

Shannon Cote

Assistant Director of Admissions
Hailing from: Portland, ME
Her style: I try not to spend too much time thinking about being fashion-forward – I find it stressful. I like to be comfortable and feel good in what I am wearing. Luckily working at an art school means I can be creative too!
Where she shops: I shop mostly at consignment and thrift shops because it is fun and I feel like it is one way I can have less of an impact on the environment . My favorites places locally are Material Objects (Portland), Find (Portland) and Goodwill. I recently discovered Mod Cloth though and love their stuff!
If you were posing as a nude model, what one favorite piece of clothing/fashion accessory would you keep on?
My flesh-colored unitard.

Daniel Fuller

Director of the ICA at MECA
Hailing from: Portland, ME… next to the 7-11.
His style: My friend Anne answered this for me as: “Retired potato farmer with tartan fever meets over-striped Syracuse sports fan.” That about sums me up, although she failed to mention that I also enjoy wearing ties.
Where he shops: Opening Ceremony, Bobby from Boston, and Seawall (Portland) which makes amazingly soft men’s dress shirts and is run by two equally amazing MECA alums.
If you were posing as a nude model, what one favorite piece of clothing/fashion accessory would you keep on?
There is a Mark Twain quote: “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.” Mark Twain was a remarkably well-dressed man.

Honour Mack

Professor, Painting & Drawing
Hailing from: Portland, ME
Her style: Getting dressed is an exercise in design. It offers the opportunity to experiment with “visual form” outside of my studio. Each morning I have a conversation with my clothes that includes color, proportion, scale, line, texture, pattern, etc. What complicates the process is how I’m feeling on that particular day. On good days, the emotional element creates unexpected combinations that surprise me. (Do we have to talk about bad days?)
Where she shops: Bargains! (anywhere from TJ Maxx, to Second Time Around (Portland), to ASOS, I do like J. Crew for staples).
If you were posing as a nude model, what one favorite piece of clothing/fashion accessory would you keep on?
A large cashmere pashima/shawl (probably in hot pink and orange).

Beckie Conrad

VP of Institutional Advancement
Hailing from: Auburn, ME
Her style: For basics, I’ve always worn classic lines and colors that are timeless. I accent with one of a kind pieces from local or European designers. I try to shop when I travel to find unique styles local to the region I’m visiting.
Where she shops: Frugal Fannies (Norwood, MA) Designer Circus (when it comes to Portland), Rapid River Clothing (Freeport)
If you were posing as a nude model, what one favorite piece of clothing/fashion accessory would you keep on?
My hair combs.

Anne Emlein

Professor and Program Chair of Textiles & Fashion Design
Hailing from: Portland, ME
Her style: I am passionate about clothes! I’m infinitely fascinated by the language of dressing. For me, getting dressed is an opportunity for expression, a creative moment in the day. I love playing with color and different fabrics, patterns, and textures. I think personal style is everyone’s secret code. Getting dressed every morning is all part of the human experience, yet also a moment to say something as an individual, and I want my clothes to reflect my joie de vivre!
Where she shops: I make a lot of my own clothes. I also shop vintage shops, buy unique garments when I travel, and keep my eye out for emerging designers. Locally I shop Black Parrot (Portland) and South Street Linen (Portland), and supplement my wardrobe with a taste of J. Crew to round things out.
If you were posing as a nude model, what one favorite piece of clothing/fashion accessory would you keep on?
My watch.

Nik Bsullak

Assistant Director of Continuing Studies
Hailing from: South Portland, ME
Her style: Fashion is about having fun and how you combine your clothes. I like to have textures, patterns, and prints compliment and contrast each other.
Where she shops: Material Objects (Portland), Boden, and shops within my travels.
If you were posing as a nude model, what one favorite piece of clothing/fashion accessory would you keep on?
It would have to be a creation by artist Cornelia Parker reflecting a moment in time within the cotton industry.

About MECA

Located in the heart of the Portland Arts District, Maine College of Art has transformed a former department store into the main campus building with vibrant classrooms and studios that are open 24/7. The school offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts, a Master of Fine Arts in Studio Arts, a Post-Baccalaureate in Art Education as well as Continuing Studies for adults and youths, including a Pre-College intensive for high school students. Undergraduate students spend the first year developing a foundation and the second year exploring a variety of media, from ceramics, graphic design, illustration, metalsmithing & jewelry, new media, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, woodworking & furniture.
FMI: www.meca.edu | 522 Congress St., Portland |  1.800.699.1509

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