Juliet Karelsen’s ‘Juliet’s Room: Recent Work’ On Display At UMF Art Gallery

Juliet Karelsen’s ‘Juliet’s Room: Recent Work’ On Display At UMF Art Gallery

By Sofia Vanoli, Contributing Writer

Artist Juliet Karelsen (Photo by Sofia Vanoli)

Artist Juliet Karelsen (Photo by Sofia Vanoli)

The UMF Art Gallery is hosting artist Juliet Karelsen for the third time with her new exhibition  “Juliet’s Room: Recent Work,” which is on display through March 12.

It is an exhibit appropriately described as a path from the natural world to the personal and emotional life of the New Yorker artist.

The first floor of the two-leveled Art Gallery holds the colorful exhibition “Lichen” that features abstract and vibrant “paintings” on linen with thread, embroidery floss and paint. They depict lichen, mushrooms, fiddleheads and mosses in a forest environment while seasons go by changing their colors from brown to green in each work.

“The downstairs is kind of like a forest, I would say. And I think people will really like it coming here in the middle of the winter,” said Karelsen. “It’s kind of an oasis, as someone once said,” explained the artist and longtime member of the Farmington community.

“I think it is an interesting and original way of portraying nature,” said Eva Schneider, UMF Language Teaching Assistant and attendee of the event. “The variety of mediums used by the artist is particularly creative,” she said while admiring one of Karelsen’s works in detail.

“I’m impressed because the works are not labeled so that leaves you to your imagination,” said Chris, a Farmington community member as he tried to name one of the lichen “paintings” located at the entrance hall which he noted was his favorite.

“The Apartment,” “Oma’s Gloves,” and “Sympathy Series” located upstairs explore the concepts of memory and loss in Karelsen’s life in diverse mediums such as gouache and needle point. Visitors can also find pieces of furniture from The Karelsen’s apartment in New York that the artist decided to make into art after her father died in 2013.

“Upstairs is more psychological, it’s more about the sense of loss and memory. And I think it’s particular for people who have lost their parents or their home. It really resonates,” said Karelsen when describing what visitors can find on the second floor of the Gallery.

In one of the tours around the exhibition during the opening reception, Karelsen fondly remembered where all the things were at her family home and she said they brought memories to her, pointing to her mother’s vanity where she would spend time with her heated curlers and lipsticks.

“The exhibition is very realistic, like it depicts someone’s life,” said Danielle Bowler, secondary education major. “My favorite artworks are the embroidered portraits of pill bottles.” They are part of “The Apartment” series and they represent how present they were in her life as her parents aged.

Farmington community member Greg Kimber agreed with Bowler. “I really like the paintings of the pill bottles because they remind me of a children’s illustration from when I was a kid.” The free interpretation and the personal connection with the artworks are present in each of them.

Anyone interested in the exhibit can visit the Art Gallery at 246 Main St. on  noon to 4 p.m. on Tuesday through Sunday, and by appointment.

Senate Holds Special Spring Term Election To Fill Empty Seat

Senate Holds Special Spring Term Election To Fill Empty Seat

By Jessica McKenna, Contributing Writer 

Newly elected senator Sam O'Neal. (Photo by Jessica McKenna)

Newly elected senator Sam O’Neal. (Photo by Jessica McKenna)

The UMF Student Senate held a special election at a recent weekly meeting to fill the general assembly seat that has been vacant since the beginning of the spring semester

The election was held during a normal senate meeting and any student who paid the student activity fee was welcomed to run. The senate is comprised of 19 general assembly seats and 6 executive board members, but coming into the spring semester due to a student transfer a seat on the general assembly became vacant. Sam O’Neal was the only candidate who ran and was voted in by a unanimous ballot with  21 members of senate voting yes.

O’Neal a Computer Science major, in his junior year, was given a chance to speak to the members of the senate on why he wanted the position. “I’m part of the computer club and I would like to represent them,” said O’Neal “I want to be more involved on campus and to not only be involved in one club but the entire process.”

Many members of senate welcomed O’Neal Monday night as he joined his fellow senators for the remainder of the meeting. The new senator voted on four proposals brought before senate after his election. Student Senate Secretary Meagan O’Reilly was pleased to finally have a full senate again. “It has been hard because the senator that left was very active in committees and provoked discussion during meetings.”  

Senator Matt Lulofs, a two-year veteran of the senate, said that this election was very beneficial to the senate. “We will have another mind when voting and getting information out there,” he said, “it’s always helpful to have new faces and opinions when deciding on issues.”

O’Neal said he will spend the spring semester familiarizing himself with senate procedures and the upcoming budgets process. The new senator has the opportunity to fill open seats on two committees but no positions were appointed at the weekly meeting.

All senators are required to hold two office hours per week, to discuss student questions and club matters. Lulofs said, “The most important part of being a senator is being fair to everyone and to not be biased and just focus on your own interests.”

With only half the school year remaining and elections coming next fall O’Neal said: “I would like to run again in the fall because so far it has been an incredible experience.” All senators will be up for reelection in the fall and will be voted in by the student body.

The Student Senate has a full schedule for the rest of the semester with club budgets being reviewed, Spring Fling, The Leadership Banquet, and various proposals being submitted.

Book Reading To Be Held by UMF Dining Hall Employee Eloise Wallace

By Joshua Beckett, Contributing Writer 

Purington Hall will be welcoming UMF Dining Hall worker Eloise Wallace to the building for a reading of “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie.” This program, which is being held on February 16 at 6 p.m.  by Community Assistant Ana Drew, will also include freshly baked cookies.

“It will be a different audience,” said Wallace, “but I’m looking forward to it.” Wallace is a retired teacher of 37 years who spent most of her time in Western Maine. She taught at Mallett School, Sweatt-Winter, Wilton Academy, and Gorham Head Start.” I knew nothing about her background, said Ana Drew who is hosting the event, “I asked around and others knew more about her.”  

Eloise graduated 50 years ago from what was at the time called Farmington State College. Almost everyone in her family has graduated from UMF and she hopes that the tradition continues. Wallace worked in the dining hall that used to be located in Mallett Hall before she came to college. “I’m working on my 14th year in this dining hall,” said Wallace, “and I still like it.”

Wallace has been preparing for this program by reciting the book during her shift. “She knows the book by heart,” said Drew.

As a first semester CA, this will be the second program that Drew’s put on for the residents in her building. “I was just trying to think of programs that would get a lot of people to go,” said Drew, “and everyone loves Eloise.”

CAs and people in other buildings have already been gearing up for the event and have spread the word. Michaela Zelie, a CA in Mallett Hall, said she has already been telling everyone in her building about the event. They’re all so excited, said Zelie, “ it’s a fresh idea and who doesn’t love free chocolate chip cookies.” CAs in other buildings have also thought about the idea of stealing Wallace for a program.

“I’m hoping that this will get residents in Purington to come to my programs,” said Drew, “ so that more people can give me ideas on what to do next.” Drew still has at least three programs to organize for the semester and has thought about inviting Wallace over for more events. Drew also suggested the idea of maybe a new interactive Clue game.

Drew is hoping that twice as many people will attend this program compared to her previous one. “I want this to be the program that people talk about,” said Drew. Drew is planning on advertising for this program all across campus in all the residence halls, Mantor Library, and the Olsen Student Center.  

Drew is hoping to plan an event with Wallace in a public venue such as the Landing so that members of the community can also attend. “She’s such a cutie pie,” said Drew.

Andy Keirns: Not Your Average (Java) Joe

Andy Keirns: Not Your Average (Java) Joe

By Lindsay Mower, Staff Reporter & Layout Editor 

Andy Keirns, Manager of Java Joe's (Photo by Sarah Kosowan)

Andy Keirns, Manager of Java Joe’s (Photo by Sarah Kosowan)

If you have ever been to Java Joe’s in downtown Farmington, you’ve probably ordered your bagel with speciality cream cheese from a man wearing a plain t-shirt (occasionally a sweatshirt with a few stripes) and a pair of jeans. This is Andy Keirns. He’s most likely had a conversation with you that’s left your head spinning as you’ve reimagined your own existence in the universe, though chances are, given his humble nature, you don’t know much about Keirns himself.

Andy Keirns has been working at Java’s long enough to see more than a couple rotations of Farmington’s flux of college students. The story of the man behind the counter, established in Farmington in 2002, becomes infinitely more interesting when peering into his life outside the coffee shop: an artist, a farmer, a musician, a phenomenal writer and composer, a storyteller and an advocate for the universe; the legend of Keirns, intricate and inspirational, is a tale that must be told.

A native of Tiverton, Rhode Island, Keirns grew up with what he describes as a “relatively unmemorable childhood experience,” spending most of his time in areas of Southern Massachusetts like Fall River and New Bedford, engrossed in the hardcore metal scene that he and his friends fell into during their later teen years. Describing the ‘Technical Death Metal’ music he listened to as incorporating elements of jazz fusion and math rock to make a brutally interesting sound, Keirns added a disclaimer; “The violence that comes along with a live show is not interesting to me… Violence is stupid. The culture in a lot of ways is inherently ignorantnot the music.” Around this time in Keirns’ youth is when he started drinking alcohol. “I was just like drunk all the time. And nobody can tell when you’re 18 or 19 because that’s what kids do.”

How Keirns found himself in Farmington is rather simple: he came to study at UMF with hopes of being a social studies teacher. “I live social sciences; walking around, going to work… I live in this kind of sociological, anthropological world where I just get to observe everything and make comments about the world around me.”

Describing his struggle with academics Keirns says, “I made it to my senior year, but I was in my senior year for three years. I was not equipped for school, I wasn’t ready emotionally. I’m sure I was a pain in the ass for all my teachers and my advisors.” Transitioning into being a part time student in 2004 he started working at Java’s, until 2007 when he decided to take some time off from school. “Life was really, really hard for me… I was really depressed,” he said, “If I wasn’t at work I would be at my apartment with the shades drawn, drunk. And it continued to get worse.”

It wouldn’t be until 2012 that Keirns quit drinking. “When I finally woke up at 28 years old, I was still 18 in a lot of ways,” he said. His means of survival was to keep busy and to avoid his apartment covered in booze bottles. “Everyday after work, I’d go down to the river, I’d like speed walk the loop a couple of times and then I would sit and read a book until I could not bear to just be sitting and reading anymore,” he said, “that was how I got through the first few weeks.”

In addition to his time at Java’s, he also began working for a woman named Deborah Chadbourne who needed help on her farm in Freeman. “It’s an interesting story because it’s two people who have very, very little in common, who were brought together by her farm.” Expressing his deep admiration for Deborah given her instrumental role in his recovery, Keirns says, “It wasn’t just the soil, it was Deborah’s soil… Farming is really great for a person who was in my situation.”

With the positive impact of physical labor on his well being, Keirns also developed a new form of self expression. He decided he no longer wanted to be defined by what he wore and that he “just wanted to be,” so he cleaned his entire apartment and got a new wardrobe, featuring only plain clothes. He also began writing a concept album entitled ‘Bridges Between.’ Using a combination of software synthesizers and live performance, he developed a new sound with an “intentionally cheesy and un-self aware feel” that he dubbed ‘Theatrical Space Metal.’ Keirns’ music is the perfect tool for understanding the complexity of his own mind. ‘Bridges Between’ is a sci fi/fantasy project about an interdimensional alien who realizes it’s not only sentient, but capable of altering the fabric of reality and creating universal empathy and utopia by connecting the global community under a single consciousness, with the intention of evolving humanity to be closer to god. “It’s a work in progress,” Keirns says, “It’s not just an idea. It’s something I got very, very far into.”

Today, this is the story Keirns has to tell. “I can’t shut my mouth about the drinking, the alcohol and about my experience with getting sober,” he said with slight laugh, “it’s just unfortunately how I define myself.” Expressing his gratitude for never being fired from Java’s through his struggle with alcohol addiction, he says he still creates music, a gift that sobriety has granted him, although it’s currently on hold while the house he just bought is under renovation. Unabashedly admitting that he’s still learning, he says, “Now I have to live in the same community that I used to live in, trying to prove to myself and the world around me that I am not who I was.”

Keirns tried finishing school by taking one class at a time, but with only three classes remaining he never did graduate; today finishing school is not on his agenda. “My college education in some ways, I guess, was a waste,” he said, “but everything that has happened has led us to where we are.”

Keirns isn’t your average (Java) Joe; he has seen a lot go down in this tiny Western Maine town. His story needs to be heard, especially by the ears of all millennials finding themselves in a drinking culture that disregards alcohol abuse as a serious and realistic health issue; in particular, the dangers of binge drinking. His voice is that of a complex American hero, one of many facing common hurdles of the modern age, but more importantly his is the voice of one who has pulled their life together and is now reaching out to share their story with others.

As you thank him for ringing up your cup of coffee in the morning, make sure to take the time to absorb and appreciate the gems of wisdom within each story he gifts you. After all, as Keirns likes to say, “We take for granted things that are supposed to be.”

Political Activism Spikes After Trump Inauguration

By Nick Bray, Staff Reporter 

The 2016 United States presidential election was among one of the most controversial in history, and political activism is rising across the country in response to the inauguration of President Donald J. Trump. Although Mr. Trump won the electoral vote, Democrat Hillary R. Clinton edged him out in the popular vote by about 2.8 million votes. On the day after the president’s inauguration, an estimated 4 million Americans took part in hundreds of women’s marches across the country.

The main march, the Women’s March on Washington, drew an estimated 470,000 demonstrators. According to the crowd scientists attributed in a New York Times article published last month this was about three times more than the 160,000 who viewed the presidential inauguration on the national mall the day before the march.

According to the march’s website, the purpose of these rally’s were to show solidarity for people from all backgrounds, affirm the protection of civil rights, and to recognize the strength of a united, diverse population.

In Maine, there were marches from Fort Kent to Kittery, which were attended by many students from UMF. At the march in Augusta, about 10,000 people gathered to hear from a program of speakers who spoke about various issues, from women’s reproductive rights, concern for the environment, and protection of civil liberties. Danielle Blair, a senior at UMF, was one of the marchers who gathered at the state capitol. “It wasn’t just a protest against Donald Trump,” Blair said, “It was a rally to support women’s rights.”

Blair was encouraged by the positive atmosphere at the rally. “Everyone was loving and happy,” Blair said.

Jeff Willey, a junior and vice president of the College Democrats attended the march to become more involved. “The problems that we are facing aren’t new, they are crossing multiple generations,” Willey said, “It was unifying.”

The rally brought together people who have already been politically involved, and people who wanted to become more involved in light of the recent elections. “It was empowering for the people that needed to be empowered,” Willey said, “The people who didn’t came to support those who needed it.”

If Facebook is any barometer of political activism, it can be seen how users who weren’t active before the election have become very active after the election. I have noticed a significant uptick in the frequency of friends sharing political news and their political opinions, as well as engaging in political discussion. I think this is especially the case for people I follow who were not sharing and discussing these issues before the election.

This increase in political activism via social media shows that people believe there is a need for these discussions. However, social media political activism has its drawbacks. Social media can become an echo chamber; people who follow and interact with only those who share similar beliefs are only reaffirming their established ideas. In addition, the prevalence of so called fake news is on the rise, and it is spread like wildfire on social media. Blair believes that engaging with people who have different political views is important to get the whole picture. “It is important for people to view accurate, reliable media sources that will challenge their beliefs,” Blair said.  

On the UMF campus, it is not hard to seek out political discussion. With two political clubs and roundtable discussions on current events, there is frequently a platform for students, staff and faculty to have their voices heard and listen to the views held by others. As the transition into the Trump administration continues, it can be expected that college campuses across the nation will be rich with discussion and opportunities to get involved in political actions.