Sculpture Symposium hosted by UMaine

The University of Maine will host this summer’s Schoodic International Sculpture Symposium (SISS), a biennial cultural event that will bring eight internationally recognized sculptors to the UMaine campus to create stone artwork for
permanent display at eight locations in Orono, Old Town and Bangor.

This year’s symposium will be held July 22-Aug. 31 and is a partnership between SISS and UMaine. UMaine will receive two sculptures that will be located on the campus, and the University of Maine Foundation will receive another sculpture.
The sculptors will work during their six weeks at UMaine from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. most days of the week in the steam plant parking lot off College Avenue. The site is free and open to members of the public who want to watch the sculptors at work.

Three previous symposia had been based at either the Schoodic Education and Research Center (SERC) in Winter Harbor or at Fisher Field in Prospect Harbor. UMaine stepped forward in 2011 to host the fourth SISS.

“We had had some interest from communities near the University of Maine, so it makes sense to have it here because those communities will have a chance to watch the process,” said SISS art director Jesse Salisbury, a Steuben resident who started the symposium and took part in the first one. “There is also a natural tie-in with our goal of involving students to not only enhance their learning, but also to enhance the project.”

The other participating groups are the town of Orono, the cities of Bangor and Old Town, Husson University and Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems. Each participating group has a committee, including city and town councilors for the municipal participants, that will help determine the location for each piece and also recommend the best sculptor match for the site and community.

One of UMaine’s sculptures will be installed at Nutting Hall, which is a Percent for Art site. The seven other sites are currently in the selection process. Janet Waldron, UMaine vice president for administration and finance, is leading a campus committee to determine the location of the second sculpture.

SISS officials estimate more than 10,000 people could visit the symposium while it is in progress. “This is a huge opportunity for the University of Maine,” said Elaine Clark, UMaine executive director of facilities, real estate and planning who is coordinating UMaine’s SISS fundraising and organizational efforts. “We’re using an art form to
bring quite a bit of activity into Orono and the UMaine campus at a time when it’s normally very quiet. We hope there will be an economic impact for the university and the whole area. In addition, our students will have the opportunity to
participate through course work and apprenticeships.”

Each participating community is raising a minimum of $20,000, which is nearly one-half of the cost of a sculpture. UMaine will raise, through grants and donations, a total of $140,000 and provide in-kind support such as meals, housing and use of equipment and facilities.

Previous groups that have received sculptures include the city of Ellsworth, the towns of Addison, Bar Harbor, Blue Hill, Deer Isle, Eastport, Franklin, Gouldsboro, Hancock, Lamoine, Milbridge, Roque Bluffs, Sorrento, Southwest Harbor, Steuben, Sullivan, Winter Harbor, and SERC. There is also a sculpture on the University of Maine System campus in Machias, which was sponsored by the town of Machias and the Machias Chamber of Commerce.

This is the first year that more than half of the participating groups will be institutions rather than municipalities. “We’re looking forward to how different this SISS will be in that we’re dealing with not just communities, but also organizations,” said Tilan Langley, the symposium’s project manager.

There will also be an educational component with a symposium-related summer course to be taught by Greg Ondo, a UMaine assistant art professor who runs UMaine’s sculpture studio. The eight sculptors are chosen through a juried process with the final eight likely to be announced in March. So far, more than 170 sculptors from all over the world have applied to be a part of the symposium. In previous years, sculptors have come from Turkey, France, Japan, Egypt, Germany, the Republic of Georgia, Poland, Sweden and Maine. The granite for the sculptures comes from local quarries. For more information about the symposium, go to