The Project:

The ‘Painting Islands: Uniting Community with Art’ project will explore participatory art utilizing the photographic technique of light painting on all fifteen year-round Maine islands. I will assemble a team of volunteer island residents who, wielding handheld flashlights, will “paint” an iconic landscape scene with light while I create a long-exposure photograph.

Without light, there would be no photography. Light painting is adding artificial light to selected areas of a night scene by waving a flashlight back and forth while the camera’s shutter is open, hence ‘painting with light’. The mystique of the resulting image is achieved by hiding the light painters in the scene so that they and their flashlights are concealed. When the shutter closes, an illuminated image is created without revealing the light source.

This project’s mission, ‘uniting community with art’, is to create participatory art with each island community through the medium of light painting photography. This collaboration begins with the islanders selecting a scene that resonates most strongly within their community. Then island residents light paint their self-selected scene to complete the artistic collaboration. In short, they are illuminating the most significant image of their island community while I capture that moment as a photograph.

A critical component of the project’s success is collaborating with each island’s community by earning their trust and respecting their decisions. The partnership with the Maine Sea Coast Mission, a well-established island outreach organization, forms a conduit to begin a dialogue with each Downeast island community and initiates the collaborative relationship. As the project gains momentum, I hope to partner with the Island Institute, another prominent island outreach organization, to assist me with introducing the project to the Casco Bay island communities.

The inspiration for this project was born of my previous community art project, ‘Painting Bridges’. The bridge project focused on light painting the sixteen carriage road bridges of Acadia National Park. With the positive results and community accolades of the bridge project, I am intensely motivated to attempt this project of ambitious scope and vast distances along Maine’s coast.


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