Student artist Justin Love will install a sculpture “Woman + Snake” in Congress Square Park this May thanks to a partnership between Friends of Congress Square Park (FoCSP) and Maine College of Art (MECA), and with the support of the Portland Public Art Committee. Standing at 8 feet and made of painted plywood, the piece is the second student installation in the Square in two years. Both FoCSP and MECA hope this is the start of a more regular display of student-made temporary public art pieces in 2019 and beyond.

According to the artist’s statement, “Woman + Snake” is “made in honor of the women from Love’s life who have found ways to flourish under heavy oppression.” The piece was made by Love while studying Studio Art and Sculpture in MECA’s graduate program.

Love moved to Portland from Jackson, Mississippi last June to study at MECA. The artist says having the opportunity for mentorship throughout the process has been invaluable. “The opportunity to have my work displayed for Portland to see is a huge gift,” said Love. “I know Portland to be a city that loves art, and being so heartily welcomed into that fold and celebrated has made me very grateful and happy. I’m appreciative of the Friends of Congress Square Park and MECA for the invaluable support they have provided along the way.”

“We’re committed to being a venue where both new and established artists can experiment feel welcome,” says Dela Murphy, Executive Director of Friends of Congress Square Park. “This program is a way to provide emerging artists with the support they need to bring their work into the public realm successfully, perhaps for the first time. Hopefully, seeing work like this in spaces we share will encourage other emerging artists, too. We’re grateful to MECA for making this possible.”

Joshua Reiman, Assistant Professor of the MFA in Studio Art and Sculpture at MECA, advises Love. “The Friends of Congress Square Park have been extremely generous in providing a public platform for visual culture by mentoring our students through the process of producing works in the park for the past two years,” says Reiman. “It is so rewarding to see young artists who are able to articulate their ideas out in public through the generosity of our neighbors in Congress Square Park. This experience for our students is invaluable, and we look forward to continuing this wonderful collaboration for years to come.”

Friends of Congress Square Park is the nonprofit place manager of Congress Square Park. Established in 2013, FoCSP seeks to build community and to create a vibrant public gathering place through community-led creative placemaking. FoCSP presents a season of more than 150 free public arts events from May through October of every year, offers public amenities like seating an free wifi, and engages volunteers in stewardship. They are celebrating their 5thanniversary this season.

Founded in 1882, the Maine College of Art is the oldest arts educational institution in Maine. The school delivers a transformative learning experience within an intimate and demanding educational environment by preparing students in the areas of artistic excellence, creative entrepreneurship, and civic engagement.

An opening for “Woman + Snake” is planned in Congress Square Park during the First Friday Art Walk on May 3, 2019, from 4-8pm. That evening, the public can also enjoy the opening night festivities for FoCSP’s season, featuring a public dialogue on social justice topics hosted by MECA students at 4pm and a performance of “Are We Great Yet?” by Circus Ole at 6pm.

“Woman + Snake” will be on public view in Congress Square Park throughout the month of May.

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