Humanities Day Events Invite UMaine Students “Downtown”

University of Maine Museum of Art in Bangor during the Bangor Humanities Day on January 30, 2016.

University of Maine Museum of Art in Bangor during the Bangor Humanities Day on January 30, 2016.

University of Maine students and professors joined community members in downtown Bangor last weekend to celebrate the fourth annual Bangor Humanities Day. Events were held in three prominent locations in downtown Bangor: The UMaine Museum of Art (UMMA), the Maine Discovery Museum and the Bangor Public Library.

“For four years, the UMaine Humanities center has run a Humanities Day full of free programs,” Dr. Liam Riordan, a history professor at UMaine and the director of the UMaine Humanities Center, said. “They’re all free and they’re all open to the public.”

It all started on Jan. 29 with a unique PechaKucha event at Coe Space in Bangor. Presentations about art, literature, history and exploration were made by UMaine professors and local artists. Each presentation consisted of 20 images, shown and discussed for 20 seconds each.  

The main events were held from 12:15 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 30 until shortly after 5 p.m. that evening. The events for Saturday were scheduled by Professor Michael Grillo, a professor of art at UMaine. 

“The humanities are a public responsibility — they’re the core of society,” Grillo said in a recent interview with the Bangor Daily News. “They are crucial for who we are and what we can imagine and what our future is.”

Artist Dan Dowd, discussed his exhibit, entitled “thick skinned” during the first event on Saturday. His exhibit, which is currently at the UMMA, features artistic pieces created from materials found in junkyards.  

Grillo and Kat Johnson, the UMMA education coordinator, held a discussion for Richard Whitten’s exhibit, “Studiolo” which is also currently at UMMA. Whitten’s work features shaped paintings and whimsical sculptures that provide a glance into the creative experience.

Grillo then held a discussion about the French illusionist and filmmaker, Georges Melies, while screening some of Melies’ early 20th century short films.  

Michael Grillo (left), a UMaine art professor, alongside Kat Johnson (right), an education director for UMMA, discuss Richard Whitten's exhibit, "Studiolo" at the University of Maine Museum of Art in Bangor on January 30, 2016.

Michael Grillo (left), a UMaine art professor, alongside Kat Johnson (right), an education director for UMMA, discuss Richard Whitten’s exhibit, “Studiolo” at the University of Maine Museum of Art in Bangor on January 30, 2016.

There was a screening of the 2011 film “Hugo,” at the Maine Discovery Museum shortly after.  The modern film was inspired by Melies’ work.  

To close the day, there was an event at the Bangor Public Library. Norumbega Collective authors and UMaine creative writing students and master’s candidates, Chris Becker, Tyler Nute and Joe Linscott read and discussed some of their work.  

Gift certificates for downtown stores and restaurants were handed out during the events in an effort to get people to explore more of what downtown Bangor has to offer.  

“One of the main goals is to bring more UMaine students to downtown Bangor,” Riordan said.  “We’d really like to show off all of the things that go on downtown and all the ways that students can take advantage of it.”  

In order to encourage students to attend Humanities Day, the entire schedule of events was based around the Community Connector bus schedule. According to Riordan, creating more connections between UMaine students and downtown Bangor will not only help the revitalization of downtown, but also help students envision a future for themselves in the area after they graduate.

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