Deb Bickford Courtesy photo
Painting by Diane Noble, one of about three dozen art teachers showing their work.Courtesy photo
Jodi Thomas Courtesy photo
Raegan Russell Courtesy photo
Saco installation Courtesy photo
SACO — The art of Maine’s art teachers is on view this month at the Saco Museum.
About three dozen teachers are showing work they created for themselves, on their own time and for their own creative pleasure. Teachers are challenged to find time to make work, said Jodi Thomas, who lives in Portland and teaches visual arts at Thornton Academy in Saco.
“My time to devote to the art-making process is in the summer,” said Thomas, who expresses her ideas mostly through photography. “The opportunity to exhibit my work makes me whole. Art is who I am and what I do.”
The show, “Four Elements & Five Senses,” is organized by the Maine Art Educators Association. The advocacy organization promotes arts education for children and encourages innovation among teachers through the exchange of ideas.
This exhibition, on view through March 18, is part of the exchange of ideas among teachers, Thomas said. It offers the chances for educators across Maine to see the work of their peers and think about their own art-making practice and how they teach.
Thomas said her inspiration comes from an annual weekend retreat she makes to Haystack Mountain of School of Crafts in Deer Isle. She took the photograph for the Saco show at Haystack, standing on the water’s edge. She frames her composition with two decaying scrub trees that are barely hanging on, with islands on the distant horizon. The black-and-white photo is stark and stoic, and also inspiring.
Thomas likes to sit at this spot whenever she’s at Haystack, to center herself, focus her thoughts and think about her place on earth. She calls these trees her “sister trees,” and she returns to this spot each fall to see how they are faring.
“I’ve lived in Maine a long time, and I’m connected to nature and to water especially,” she said. “Going to Haystack is a way for me to slow down and reflect on who I am as a person and as a professional.”
Haystack pushes people to experiment and try new materials and techniques. Thomas said those skills are invaluable in the classroom, where students are always interested in new ideas.
This exhibition is particularly gratifying for her, because it is an exhibition of art made by peers. “I respect my colleagues so much,” Thomas said. “Many of them are my friends, and I think of them as my comrades. We hold each other up in so many ways.”
WHERE: Saco Museum, 371 Main St.
WHEN: On view through March 18; noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday; noon to 8 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
ADMISSION: $5 adults, $3 seniors, $2 students and children ages 7 to 18; free 6 and younger. Free for all after 4 p.m. Friday
INFO: 283-3861, sacomuseumorg