Monson Arts

Coiling, Twining and Braiding at Monson Arts

Stephanie Levy had the good fortune to attend Lissa Hunter’s “Fiber/Mixed Media” workshop at Monson Arts last August and sent photos and stories to share.

Monson Arts is a relatively new program located in the town of Monson, Maine in Piscataquis County between Dover-Foxcroft and Greenville. Libra Foundation support has led to renovated buildings and new classrooms throughout the town. In fact, while Stephanie’s class was taking place, another old building was being transformed into new studio space with a large bank of windows overlooking nearby Lake Hebron. The downtown area is small enough that all classes were held within short walks of each other. Meals took place at the local Quarry Restaurant whose owners cooked fabulous food—three times a day—and LOVED speaking with students. The schedule was such that students could take walks after classes or early in the morning, and if they put in good effort, could make it all the way to the head of the Appalachian Trail which is right in Monson.

Monson Arts holds one-week workshops on a variety of topics taught by instructors renown in their field. Studios are open 24 hours per day. 2020 classes—if they take place—are scheduled in book arts, wood, writing, painting, fiber, drawing and sculpture.

Stephanie described Lissa’s class. Lissa Hunter—a Maine artist renown for her basketry, paintings and clay work—wanted to teach residents to work on small, intimate projects (rather than starting off with something grandiose) to better understand the essence of coiling, twining and braiding. She taught different techniques for coiling, covering coiling with paper, and looping with fibrous materials on an object’s exterior. She was a gracious and generous teacher, who had a quiet way of being with students. She had invited Jo Stealey, newly-retired from the Department of Fiber Arts in Missouri and a superb basketmaker and papermaker, to co-teach with her, and residents benefitted from the work and the experience of both.

Stephanie noted that the group of perhaps ten students offered a mix of ages and experiences that was truly beneficial to all for sharing ideas, backgrounds and techniques.

All in all, Stephanie highly recommends the Monson Arts experience and “would go back in a heartbeat.”

—With input and photos by Stephanie Levy

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