PROSPECT HARBOR, Maine — Amidst the whir of sanders and the pounding of jackhammers, visitors to Fisher Field have been peering through clouds of stone dust to watch six international sculptors turn massive blocks of Maine granite into works of art.
This is the third year that the Schoodic International Sculpture Symposium has brought talented artists together to create public art. More than 160 applicants for the program were received from 45 countries, but only six were selected.The finished works will be permanently installed at Sorrento, Blue Hill, Addison, Roque Bluffs, Eastport and Hancock, bringing the total number of sculptures in Washington and Hancock counties to 19.
The Schoodic International Sculpture Symposium, which has been held every other year since 2007, is an artist-in-residency program that provides artists from around the world a stipend, materials and technical support. The finished works are part of a collection that spreads from Deer Isle to Machias. Support for the work is provided by the Schoodic Education and Research Center, area communities, general fundraising, grants and in-kind support.
Organizers announced Wednesday that a symposium will be sponsored next year by the University of Maine, with the program being housed at the steam plant on the Orono campus. Eight sculptures will be created to extend the collection into Penobscot County.
This year’s artists are from Maine, Canada, Ohio, Germany and Japan.
Sitting on a block of granite as large as a king-sized bed, New Brunswick sculptor Jim Boyd on Wednesday teased the ribs of a leaf from the rock. Boyd is creating two tall artworks — a sail and a leaf — for the city of Eastport.
“I studied Eastport before I came up with the design,” Boyd said before donning his goggles, breathing apparatus and earplugs. “My impression is of a community in transition. The fisheries have all closed and the city is trying to develop culturally.”
Boyd’s design reflects that impression. The leaf represents growth, transformation and change, he said, with the ribs resembling fish bones and the shape similar to the hull of a boat. The sail reflects the city’s relationship with the sea. “I like to push the stone beyond its limits,” he said. Both the leaf and sail are 9 1/2 feet tall and will be placed in Overlook Park in downtown Eastport.
Boyd, a high school art teacher in Hampton, N.B., said he is thrilled to be part of the symposium.
“I am loving the conversations with the other artists,” he said. “That is a great part of this. It is a fantastic experience.”
The sculptors are using granite from Maine quarries — Jonesboro Pink and Fish, Addison Black and Sullivan Granite.
Sculptor Lise Becu normally limits her work back home in Tenant’s Harbor to small pieces because she doesn’t have access to heavy equipment, such as cranes, to move the massive granite. But there are all kinds of such equipment at the Schoodic facility.
“Here it is so freeing,” she said. “I have the opportunity to work with large pieces.”
Becu is creating “Nurturing by Nature,” a three-ton piece which will be installed in a new marsh walk and park at Addison. It is a blue heron and mermaid, entwined. Fish flow through the mermaid’s hair.
“I saw the marsh as such a peaceful place,” Becu said. The sculpture will represent the interconnectedness of nature and humans. “I expect that people will touch the sculpture and that will give it a wonderful patina,” she said. “I am delighted with my site. It is very wonderful.”
Kazumi Hosino, originally from Japan but now living in Steuben, is creating an organic sculpture for Roque Bluffs.
“This is about balance,” Hosino said. “When I think of Roque Bluffs I think of nature and people and circles — the sun, the moon, the earth.”
Her sculpture is more abstract and resembles two intersecting orbs.
JoAnne Estey and Cookie Thelan are volunteers at the site, shepherding dozens of tourists through the working outdoor studio. “I was gone for two weeks and the progress has been amazing,” Thelan said Wednesday.
The women said the artists have been working seven days a week since Aug. 4, when the six-week program began, and even when it rained, visitors lined up to watch them.
“It has also been wonderful to see how the artists will work together, discussing their work,” Estey said.
For information about the symposium, go to www.schoodicsculpture.org.