Before my arrival at Chewonki, I had never taken an art class, or even set foot inside of my school’s art rooms. The idea of taking an art class back home seemed impossible, but Maine Coast Semester was the perfect opportunity to sign up for my very first art class. Upon the first day of classes I felt highly unqualified; I was surrounded by other students, all of whom appeared to have much more experience than I did. Yasamin, the art teacher, was an immediate relief to this stress with her soft demeanor and acceptance of any and all artistic techniques.
The class began with a project on personal growth through transfer paper. I began my project with the bright idea to use my face as a stamp, which quickly became less intelligent when I was covered in paint for days, unable to fully remove the green children’s paint from my ears and neck. The finished project was three layers of paint, collage, and beading, each representing a different portion of my life. This project soon became the basis for my other artistic pursuits. The following projects brought with them ceramic footprints, colorful jeans, and my personal favorite, a patchworked stuffed cow.
The stuffed cow began after we had started our natural dye project. After finishing a pair of pants, flared out with colorful fabrics, I was left with a rainbow of linens. Piper was also in the process of her natural dye project, and on a whim we decided to begin the project of stuffed cows. I had never once done a large-scale sewing project following a pattern, and yet somehow I decided that I would be able to complete this project with the 2-3 inch thick strips of fabric I had in my messy art shelf.
The project began with patchworking together my fabric scraps to create a singular piece colored by walnut shells, black tea, avocado pits, onion skins, and indigo. I then cut these larger pieces into the sections designated by the pattern, but then came the hard part. The pattern was designed for people with sewing skills, not an amateur with limited knowledge of how to thread a needle.
The following study hours were spent sitting in the art room slowly piecing together the final cow. Art classes were spent with pincushions and fabric scissors, listening to the F Block playlist we had created at the beginning of the semester. Slowly, the cow began to come together, brought to life surrounded by art students, the music of Maggie Rogers, and the buzzing of sewing machines.
After a few weeks, what was once scraps became a 10-inch tall stuffed cow adorned with neon orange buttons for eyes. The cow, which has yet to be christened with a name, looks nothing like the original image Piper and I saw on Etsy. It is lopsided with exposed stitching, and yet it is beautiful. It sits inside of Gillies, and as we watch the last weeks of the semester pass, I know that it will go on with me, a constant reminder of my time at Maine Coast Semester.
Abi Green, Hampton High School, Hampton Township, PA