Human Impact, now on view in the Lower Ground Floor of the PMA’s Payson Building, is the culmination of a months-long partnership between Portland High School and the PMA.
Inspired by the artwork in Down North: The North Atlantic Triennial, students in Art III explored three themes – nature, environment, and society. After visiting the exhibition and spending time with Down North artist Christopher Carroll, students began their own artistic studies in response to these larger themes. Their artworks delve into the connection between people and place, speak to personal and universal experiences, and raise questions about what shapes and sustains communities.
Since 2019, the Portland Public Schools (PPS) and Portland Museum of Art Partnership Program has aimed to build connections, resources, and collaborations with the PPS district. These partnerships encourage student agency, are guided by classroom educators, and help amplify the incredible arts education work being done in our local communities.
For more information about school programs and partnerships at the PMA, please visit portlandmuseum.org/learn or email [email protected]
PMA Schools Experience Initiative, including the PPS and PMA Partnership Program, is made possible by the Sam L. Cohen Foundation.
One Day in Many, 2022
Archival ink on glossy paper
A series of photos taken over the course of one day from the exact same spot.
Backwards America, 2022
Acrylic paint, 3 wood panels, colored pencils
Since the beginning, America has found a way to step on its citizens. Recent events have depicted a backward America in which rights are being taken away from those who are able to have children. My work represents the pressure that America puts on its citizens to conform to misogynistic ideals, created by men in power, who tell people what they can and can’t do with their bodies and create double standards that revoke human rights.
Bogue Inlet Pier Transition, 2022
Pencil, colored pencil, oil pastel
The Bogue Inlet Fishing Pier of Emerald Isle Beach, NC is an important place for me. Ever since I was a kid I would visit my Grandparents house at this beach often and see this pier. In 2018, Hurricane Florence hit the east coast very hard and destroyed the pier. My artwork showcases the damages and the transition of the Environment before and after the hurricane.
Impact of Immigration, 2022
Paint and sharpie
My artwork represents Immigration from South Sudan to America due to war and violence. It also represents how different life is in America compared to how people live in South Sudan.
Acrylic on wood panel, fish net
This piece depicts the idea that polluting the earth not only affects the state of the environment but it comes back to affect humans in karmic ways. The selfish actions that cause the earth to slowly die, are first executed to be beneficial, but in time, end up doing humans more harm than good. The fish are being caught by the same vessel that is intoxicating them, which will eventually be consumed by the species that harms the fish and inevitably harms themselves unknowingly.
The three day journey, 2022
Acrylic paint on wood panels
These four pieces, each from a different perspective, work together to tell the story of the mass amount of immigrants Rincon, Puerto Rico receives each year:
The first painting is the view from the porch of a vacation home in Rincon, Puerto Rico, looking out at the vast ocean. This viewpoint represents someone like me who admires the beauty of Puerto Rico and cannot relate to the hardships and obstacles that immigrants face crossing the ocean. The second painting is the view from a person on a yola, a small make-shift boat, who has left everything behind and risked their life in hopes of creating a better one in America. Many people from the Dominican Republic and Haiti travel over 200 miles through rough seas, taking approximately a total of three days. Those who are lucky enough to reach sand in Rincon, must then make it to the forest to be permitted to stay. If not, they are deported back to their place of origin. The third painting captures the picturesque, stereotypical life of an American. This fantasy is portrayed like a dream to allude to and exaggerate the idea of the “American dream”. The final painting is a map of the Dominican Republic and Haiti in proximity to Rincon, Puerto Rico.
War is not art, 2022
Acrylic paint on canvas
The idea of war is different for every individual. Many have never experienced it. Many have. These people have been through losing many valuable items and loved ones. Not only has war affected the society and peple but the environment as well. This simple art piece projects the idea that war conflict is a worldwide issue and has been goig on for centuries. And with it continuing to happen its destroying society, environment and people. These paintings are inspired by real personal photos all taken by Ana Napijalo and her family members. A compare and contrast of how life looks like with and without war.
Acrylic on canvas
Everyone saw magic in nature as a child, and that magic still exists regardless of the changes to our environment. It’s important that we remember this magic so that we can protect where we came from. That’s my wish from this piece.
Charcoal, stumps, erasers, airdry clay, paint, brushes
First is a charcoal drawing of lemons on a tree branch. Second, I created four lemons using clay to resemble my 3 brothers and I. Lemons are my theme due to the short story I wrote.
Lemon tree, 2022
We have all heard the phrase “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” this phrase is often used to encourage optimism during a time of difficulty. In 2011, 6 year old me took that phrase too literally by making lemonade everyday from a lemon tree in my front yard during the most difficult time.
Around march of 2011, Libya became a war zone. I had been living there with my parents and two older brothers since birth. Libya was my home, even though I had no extended family in the country, it was all that I had known. Before my youngest brother was born, my family and I would take yearly trips during the summer to visit neighboring countries. One of these countries being Iraq, which is where my extended family on both sides lived. My youngest brother was born in January of 2011, which was about two months before the war began in Libya.
I was woken up by my older brother’s voice telling my middle brother and I to pack our stuff because we were leaving. Being 6 years old meant I had little to no knowledge of what was really happening. I did not understand the concept of war yet. I remember packing my things in a plastic bag and being told to leave most of my stuff behind with the promise that we will return for them, this did not happen.
After a while on the road, we ended up in a small house with a front yard that was bigger than the house. I was immediately drawn to the massive lemon trees in the yard. Little did I know, these lemon trees would become my only source of entertainment during the scariest time of my life. Everyday was lived wondering if it would be my last. I remember climbing up one of the lemon trees and collecting a few lemons so my two older brothers and I would squeeze them and make lemonade that we added way too much sugar to.
It was the only form of normality my little self got to experience during the war.
Gathering lemons and sitting down on the floor using all the strength my tiny body had to offer in order to make lemonade. It was never about the lemonade itself, rather it was the feeling of connection I had with my brothers while we sat down on the cement floor making the lemonade. It was the sense of comfort and safety, even while I heard bombings going on around me.
I learned about the phrase “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade” after my move to the united states. That’s when it hit me that I had been doing that during my stay at that small house with the lemon trees. Life was giving me lemons by throwing me in a war zone, and I took those lemons and made lemonade and formed my own peace.
Traces (Part III), 2022
Paint pen on plexiglass, fishing wire, wood
The routes that we travel and the places that we go define our lives. For this piece, I was inspired to explore my time living in Maine through the routes that I frequently traveled for every year that I have lived here. As time moves on and people change, the places that we go also change. We continue to establish new connections with the environment around us and outgrow old connections.
There are nine sheets of plexiglass, each one representing a year of my life since moving to Maine at age 8. My house forms a consistent point on the map with routes moving outwards. The width of the lines indicate the frequency that a route has been traveled.
Shark migrations, 2022
Sail, acrylic paint, white clay
Clay sharks follow migration lines north on the painted map, depicting sharks migrating into colder water due to rising sea temperatures.
Tourist gaze, 2022
Acrylic paint and printed photos on canvas
The tourist gaze refers to the idea of a tourist way of seeing places. Maine is known for our gorgeous beaches. However, our beaches aren’t so perfect. My work represents the expectation of a tourist traveling to Maine and going to the beach (blue canvas). Versus the reality of our beaches (green canvas). For many years trash has found its way onto our beaches. I took many trips to the beach and took many photos of all the trash I saw.
Asylum In the South, 2022
Acrylic paint, wood, paper
My artwork is my first hand interpretation of how the Venezuelan Immigration crisis is viewed in Colombia.