May 26, 2018
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Reading between the ‘lines’

Contributed | BDN
Contributed | BDN
By Jessica Bloch, BDN Staff

This year’s rainy, wet summer may not be ideal for enjoying some activities, but for artist Nancy Manter, the conditions are often just right.

The Veazie native, whose work is now on display in the exhibition “Desire Lines” at Waterfall Arts in Belfast, uses her body to make lines out of mud, of which there has been plenty this summer, or on surfaces such as ice or sand. Then she photographs the results and uses the photographs as inspiration for drawings and paintings.

“Desire Lines” is a term that refers to lines outside designated lines — a shortcut created between two paths, for example. Manter dips her feet in mud and then paints lines on a rock, scrapes her fingernails on ice, or swipes a finger on a fogged-up window to create her lines.

“They’re lines that are spontaneous, and I make a lot of those in the landscape,” said Manter, who is serving as a summer artist-in-residence at Waterfall Arts. “Everything is temporary. It either gets erased or it evaporates.”

Manter makes much of her work in Maine, where she spends about six months a year. Her father was a noted cardiologist in Maine, and her mother is an artist.

“Desire Lines” consists of six paintings, several photographs, including three 38-inch-by-40-inch prints, and a collaborative work made by students in Manter’s residency program.

To make the group piece, Manter ushered the students outdoors into mud, where they used their feet to make drawings on rocks. The group took photographs of the drawings, and brought the images to Northeast Reprographics in Bangor, where the photographs were enlarged.

Back in Belfast, the students arranged the images into a collage. The final product is hanging in front of a window so the light coming through illuminates the lines in the drawings.

Manter is displaying her larger photographs for the first time. Manter used to believe her photographs, like her lines in the mud, were meant to be temporary, used mostly to inform her paintings and drawings.

“Only recently have I considered the photographs to be more than sketches,” she said.

“Desire Lines” will be on display until Aug. 28. Waterfall Arts is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday or by appointment. The building is at 256 High St. in Belfast. Go to or call 338-2222 for more information.


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