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University of Maine’s current sculptor-in-residence, Mark Pettegrow

Mark Pettegrow is this year’s Sculptor-in-Residence for the Littlefield Gallery in Winter Harbor, Maine. Pettegrow is a University of Maine alumni from the graduating class of 1981. He recently gave his presentation titled “Ebb, Flow, and Flame: Selected Works from the Studio 2016-2022” in Lord Hall on Oct. 18, which was open to the public. 

UMaine runs a Sculptor-in-Residence Program through the department of art. The program was created by Kelly and Jane Littlefield in 2015 and allows the university to host a sculptor to give a presentation to the public and work with art students in classrooms. The program is a great opportunity for art students to learn from an established sculptor in their classes. During the duration of their stay at UMaine, the Sculptor-in-Residence will work with the university to put one of their sculptures somewhere on campus. 

Pettegrow was raised in a military family and moved to multiple bases throughout his childhood. After receiving a scholarship, he studied at UMaine and ended up graduating with the highest honors and a studio art degree. In his presentation, Pettegrow mentioned that his favorite spot to draw on campus was always at the Roger Clapp greenhouses. 

At 21 years old, Pettegrowworked three jobs to save money and travel Europe. He was particularly interested in visiting Athens, due to his interest in mythology in his youth. The bronze casting he uses in his sculpture art is reminiscent of mythological and greek architecture and color palettes. Upon returning from Europe, Pettegrow wanted to take his talents further and decided to attend the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Fine Arts. 

Another influence in his artwork comes from gardening. His time in UMaine’s greenhouses provided him practice drawing the intricate patterns of plants. He still finds blooms of flowers and leaves on plants to be spectacularly intricate. 

Pettegrow talked about his various past projects, including the one he worked on for the University of Southern Maine. He created a sculpture in their roundabout that stood from 2019 to 2021. That was inspired by the idea of passing a torch. His sculpture represented how we pass our talents and ideas from generation to generation. It consists of three large stones and metal structures with orange, flame-like lighting that resembles the fire of the torch. 

Mark Pettegrow works with primarily wax, plaster, clay, as well as bronze-casting today. He has a sketchbook full of ideas.

In his presentation, Pettegrow talked about how there is a certain ebb and flow to life; the tide goes out, but it always comes back. He is particularly interested in the way the ocean tide ebbs and flows and it influences his sculptures greatly. 

“It is our role to pass artwork as artists,” Pettegrow said. 

He stresses that, as artists, it is your duty to pass along artwork and beautiful creations,and do not forget, because artists and artwork often go under-appreciated in the role they play in our society and world. 

Be on the lookout for a piece from Pettegrow located on the UMaine campus in the future.


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