Natasha Mayers has been called Maine’s most committed activist-artist. She has supervised more than 500 murals as a touring artist with the Maine Arts Commission since 1975. The painted utility poles in her town which depict local history were featured in Lucy Lippard’s book, The Lure of the Local. She is artist-in-residence for Peace Action Maine, and was a National Endowment for the Arts Millennium Artist, creating community art in Portsmouth, Ohio, exploring local views of identity, values, and sense of place, to demonstrate how involvement in the arts can improve the quality of community life. In 2005 she received the Arthur Hall Award “for an artist whose work, community service and commitment to their craft inspires others around them to reach to their highest potential.”

Natasha was awarded the Individual Artist’s Fellowship from the Maine Arts Commission in 1998, the Artists Projects: New Forms Award from New England Foundation for the Arts, and the Zorach scholarship to the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 1976.

She has taught students from nursery school to college and in diverse populations: immigrants, refugees, prisoners, the homeless, and the “psychiatrically labeled.” She organized “Warflowers: From Swords to Plowshares,” a 2005-06 traveling exhibit by 44 Maine artists, launching discussion about economic conversion of defense-oriented launching discussion about how to convert from a defense-based economy.

In her own painting, Mayers often explores themes of peace and social justice. In her State of War series, by placing images of war onto Maine’s landscape, she effectively asks, “How would we feel if it happened here? “An empathetic response,” says Mayers, “requires imagination.”

In the artist statement for her most recent show, Natasha writes:
“SIGNS OF THE TIMES” is a daily visual journal of intruding news images and events and feelings, my attempt to make sense (and nonsense) of the times in which we live. Individual painted signs and symbols are configured into larger asymmetric “signs” with compound meanings.In this body of work, I am using the abstract language of road signs combined with painted news images….. to make a playful and deadly serious statement that reflects recent world events. These invented and found images are drawn from Maine to Guantanamo, New Orleans to Iraq, France to Afghanistan.) It may be simultaneously seen as a cry of joy and a cry of rage, a damning critique of our government’s policies, but also an artist’s coping mechanism for living with the onslaught of news.

Her portrait was recently painted by Robert Shetterly as part of his Americans Who Tell the Truth series (www.americanswhotellthetruth.org), with these words of hers:

“We need artists to help explain what is happening in this country, to tell the truth and reveal the lies, to be willing to say the emperor has no clothes, to create moral indignation, to envision alternatives, to reinvent language. We need artists to help us come together and share our voices and build community around powerful issues concerning our roles in the world and our planet’s survival. Compassion must be translated into action.”

5 responses

1 05 2007
Reverend Billy

I humbly sit in the piney-smelling pews of your cathedral of talent. Your paintings jar me but are so beautiful they add a reassuring comfort too – so I’m aware that jarring and comforting are contradicting one another – don’t know – complicated… but simple… Amen!

18 08 2008
Sherry Miller

Thrilled to come across your work and your blog. Just as all the comments say you are, and continue to be, a force of nature all these years. Congratulations on a long and I hope wonderful life as an artist. You have been a great inspiration to all of us. Come and visit my studio in Sausalito California. It’s warm all year long. xxxx Sherry Miller

13 11 2010
Tim Young

Hi Natasha!
I had a blast yesterday!
It was so nice to meet you (although I felt like I’ve met you before somewhere)
I sat next to Brian Reeves. I never really signed my picture, the one with the soldiers going into the meat grinder and coming out as Blood Bucks. I didn’t see it on the flicker site of the scanned photo’s. But that’s OK. I had such a hard time with the subject matter mainly because when you really add up the cash that, has been spent, will be spent, it became completely overwhelming. Today I figured up that we could give every human being in the USA about $300,000 a year! for a few years.
So it’s obvious that we could do a great deal with that amount of resources to make changes to the current situation we are in as a country financially. It’s obvious that we could be improving schools, infrastructure, as well as provide health care for every American and still have money left over for the arts!
It’s obvious to me that the industrial military complex could care less what happens to Americans. So In the end I drew soldiers going in and blood dollars coming out. I was breaking it down to the simplest image to describe what’s really going on in this country as well as the rest of the planet.
I want to thank you for being part of something that is real and positive.
I also would like to volunteer myself in any way I can in the future to keep this movement alive. I’m deeply concerned that my two daughters (4and 7 years old) will be entering a world not fit to live in.
The amount of money that has been borrowed from China by the USA is overwhelming and absurd to say the least.
But we must keep trying in a nonviolent and positive way.
My Cell phone # is (207)-632-6729, please call me or E-mail me to help next time around.
I’m willing to assist in anyway. (I have a truck to haul things even)
Thanks again,
Tim Young
PS: I’m getting a new E-mail address soon so I’ll send you it when I switch over.

30 04 2012
Harlow Gallery » blogged by Shanna Wheelock

[…] in Hallowell. The exhibit was a culmination of the dedication and hard work of artist organizers Natasha Mayers,Robert Shetterly, Kenny Cole, Nora Tyron, Code Pink activist Lisa Savage, and several Maine […]

25 05 2013
BLOGGED: Shanna Wheelock | Harlow Gallery

[…] in Hallowell. The exhibit was a culmination of the dedication and hard work of artist organizers Natasha Mayers,Robert Shetterly, Kenny Cole, Nora Tyron, Code Pink activist Lisa Savage, and several Maine […]

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