Meet the 2016 Homer High School Fellows

Meet the 2016 Homer High School Fellows

The Winslow Homer High School Fellows, now in its fourth year, is a summer program for local high school students with an interest in arts. The program grants teens the unique opportunity to make art at the PMA, visit the Winslow Homer Studio in addition to the working studios of contemporary artists, explore the PMA collection, and more. This year, Fellows even developed their own evening event: Incoming Tide—A Night for Teens at the PMA.

As the 2016 Winslow Homer High School Fellowship draws to a close, the Fellows gathered to reflect on the experience. I spoke with these terrific young people both together and individually, and I hope you take this opportunity to learn more about them and the program. If you are interested in becoming a 2017 Winslow Homer High School Fellow, or know someone who might like to be, feel free to contact me.

What was the most fulfilling thing you’ve done or learned as a Homer High School Fellow?

Group Response: The entire Fellowship experience has been spontaneous and humbling. An overall lesson of being here has been to just be you. It may seem corny or simple or even difficult, but once we all got past that corny stigma, that's when things became successful. Being you is the coolest thing you can do, and being scared of what people think will get you nowhere. We thrived so much here because we came here open-minded and had a good balance between having fun and being productive. We got past the negative stigmas about teenagers and earned respect for what we can do and what we accomplished during our Fellowship. Lifelong friends were made, creative ideas were born, insecurities were overcome and secured, and then we all sat around and realized the world isn't always that bad.

And the 2016 Homer High School Fellows!


Joliet: I am a rising senior at Portland High School and am preparing to take on new challenges in the world. I enjoy hosting radio talk shows, talking about art, and listening to music.

PMA: As someone who enjoys engaging with their peers about art and current events, how has this Fellowship allowed you to foster that skill and use the PMA collection to share art with others?

Joliet: I am the type of person who always has an opinion on something. I enjoy challenging people’s views of the world and facilitating group discussions. This Fellowship has given me the opportunity to take art and translate it into real-world issues. I have gone from just looking at the aesthetics of a painting to understanding the deeper meaning. After working with such a diverse group of people, I have learned to understand that there is no wrong interpretation of art.

I was an intern at the PMA last spring and I learned how to facilitate tours and take in the deeper meanings of works of art. I led a tour for Portland High School Advanced Placement art students about a Marc Swanson sculpture. It’s a phenomenal and thought-provoking piece and during my tour the issues of gender stereotypes and identity were heavily talked about. I have taken the same principles I and applied it to the tours I’ve given as a Fellow. I put together a tour with Jan about the “Orientalism and Race at the Turn of the Century” gallery. We gave the tour to an Opportunity Alliance organization called the OPEN project, the Learning and Interpretation Advisory Committee, and teens at our Teen Night. The most fulfilling thing I’ve done as a Homer High School fellow has been diversifying the audience of the museum; I hope the museum continues to welcome younger audiences into the museum and have more teen interns, volunteers, or even employees.


Isabella: I am a rising senior at Yarmouth High School. As a visual artist, I enjoy acrylic painting, printmaking, and fiber arts. Other than creating art, I enjoy skiing, sailing reading, trail running, environmental activism, and music.

PMA: How has your passion for the environment translated to understanding art during Fellowship?

Isabella: As someone who loves to escape both to the mountains and to the museum, I’ve always felt torn between my two passions: environmental activism and art. This summer, I was able to further develop both of these passions. My work as a Homer High School Fellow has helped to solidify my interest in museum education—specifically, my interest in youth and teen education. It has also taught me that in the future, there will be opportunities for my two passions to cross. There is a need for museums to be stewards of sustainability. As institutions of social and cultural significance, they are responsible for setting standards. I see this culminating in the form of departments that are strictly focused on sustainability. My work as a Fellow this summer has given me a better understanding of how museums function. In the future, I see myself working with museums to make sure they act as environmental stewards in their own communities. So much of art highlights the human relationship to nature, but our relationship with nature has changed. It can be the job of our museums to highlight how we can address the ever-changing relationship between humans and the environment.  



Jan: I'm a 17-year-old from Lewiston. I am a rising senior at Fryeburg Academy. I enjoy poetry, jazz, theater, societal change, film, and always learning things!

PMA: You have stated that before this Fellowship, you did not have a strong interest in museums. How has your passion for art flourished?

Jan: It wasn’t necessarily the museum itself that fostered a better appreciation of art, but the passionate, hard-working people who comprise this amazing place. The educators, security guards, administration, and my fellow Fellows are the real reason I come to the museum. Their love for art, and general compassion has become a staple of my daily life, and I appreciate that every minute. The heart of a museum is the people who keep it alive with their never-ending fervor to do jobs they love. I never really understood the appeal of an art museum until this Fellowship; after this program, you can bet that I'll always have a love for museums.

The most important and fulfilling thing I've learned as a Homer High School Fellow is appreciation. Being chosen for this program with the other Fellows feels like a very happy coincidence. I've grown to love the interactions I have every day at the PMA and the people who work to make it great. The 45-minute drive each way is just a minuscule problem, as long as I get to be here, at the PMA.



Elle: I love making sculpture and feel very strongly about Thai food. I live in Gorham and spend most of the school year watching movies and worrying about science homework.

PMA: How has this Fellowship changed how you look at and talk about art?

Elle: Being a Fellow has given me a new confidence. I am much better at talking to groups and have become more comfortable with my peers. I used to answer every question with another question, but now I've developed eloquence and can answer seriously. Leading my first gallery tour was the first time I've spoken to a group without feeling nervous. I definitely look at art differently now, especially having given my own tours and having the confidence to speak out about my opinions. I'm so much more comfortable in museums now and I really feel like I belong here.

Morgan (on right)

Morgan: I'm going to be a junior at Portland High School. I'm sickeningly indecisive and live in my own world. But, regardless, I'm an intense enjoyer of music and arts and completely intrigued and obsessed with life and space.

PMA: Taking what you learned here at the PMA, how do you want to bring art into your community at Portland High School?

Morgan: Using this experience, I realize how my school could flourish and connect more with the museum. We have ideas to create more field trips and more overall attention to art like more Teen Nights. The museum is welcoming Portland High students to come to the museum for free.

This Fellowship really enabled us to be creative with our passions, whereas school focuses more on sports. Teens are often taught growing up that the art world is impossible to embark into, but things such as the Fellowship or other proactive programs at school or the PMA can help prepare teens who are interested in art. Informing people and teens that art is more than just a "perfect" painting will help break stigmas and make art more universal and comfortable to a diversified audience.


Daniel: I'm a gender-fluid, queer person of color who enjoys expression, memes, socialism, and the dismantling of our cis-hetero-patriarchal society.

PMA: What was the most fulfilling thing you’ve done or learned as a Homer High School Fellow?

Daniel: Probably the most fulfilling thing I've learned during my time as a Fellow was how empowering it can be to use art as a platform to facilitate important discussions on race, gender, and sexuality. To be able to use our knowledge, but also grow and learn new things was probably the most fulfilling thing I've taken from this experience. Experiencing new forms of art, learning different movements, and seeing contemporary art made by young adults as well as art by old, dead people has immeasurably expanded my toolbox, which I can use for the future.


Arikah: I'm an aspiring artist who loves cats, wandering around Portland, and I'm very bad at writing bios about myself.

PMA: What is it like being an artist at Baxter Academy, a school that focuses on science and math?

Arikah: It's been very difficult being in a school that teaches the opposite of what I'm interested in. I don't have many chances to converse with other artists, and I'm so happy I had that opportunity to do that so much this summer. Prior to the Fellowship I had been working on a project that will bring more of the arts to peers at my school. This Fellowship has given me so many ideas for how to improve this project. I know a little more about the art community in Portland and ways to look for opportunities. I feel like this Fellowship has really opened me up as an artist, and I want other artists at my school to have the same experience. I also want this burst of creativity and inspiration I have right now to continue, and I think continuing to go to galleries and keep critical art conversations going will do that.

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September 27, 2016
Associate Educator for Youth Learning

Louisa, a Portland resident, has worked in museum and arts education for 10 years. She believes in the transformative power of art and that everyone has something to teach and has something to learn. When designing and implementing programs, she aims to use art as a vehicle to encourage empathy and social bridging, and to foster deep, intergenerational communication. A graduate of Rhode Island School of Design, she enjoys honing her own artistic practice, and spending time outside with her husband Nick and baby daughter, Colette.