Visions of Mount Desert Island at COA’s Blum Gallery

Posted May 20, 2013, at 3:37 p.m.
Chris Monahan, Egg Rock from Compass Harbor, oil
Chris Monahan, Egg Rock from Compass Harbor, oil
Usnea by Lilliana Demers, watercolor
Usnea by Lilliana Demers, watercolor

Thursday, Jan. 1, 1970 12 a.m. to 12 a.m.

Location: College of the Atlantic - Ethel H. Blum Gallery, 105 Eden Street, Bar Harbor, Maine

For more information: Catherine Clinger; 207-288-5015;

BAR HARBOR, ME—Two separate visions of the Mount Desert Island landscape will be on view at College of the Atlantic’s Ethel H. Blum Gallery between Monday, May 27 and Friday, May 31. MDI native Lilliana Demers will be displaying watercolors of local medicinal plants in her exhibit, “Local Healing Plants: Form, Color and Spirit.” Christopher Monahan is montaging oils of the land and surrounding sea in his exhibit, “Observations from MDI.” The gallery is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with a reception from 3 to 5 p.m. on Monday, May 27.

Demers’ exhibit, which includes watercolors of birch bark, fungi, witch hazel, hemlock, trillium, and other local plants, is as much about the functions of the plants as their forms. Having studied medicinal plants for several years, Demers includes the plants’ botanical uses along with her delicate watercolors. Inspired by 18th and 19th century herbals, Demers’ intent is to document the healing potential of nature.

A 2008 graduate of Mount Desert Island High School and the daughter of COA alumni and island residents Stephen Demers and Rose Kelley-Demers, Lilly Demers spent the past few years studying local plant medicine and creating her own herbal remedies from both cultivated and wild harvested plants. As the plants she was studying emerged this spring, Demers went out to meet them, creating watercolors under the guidance of COA artist and art historian Catherine Clinger.

Demers’ paintings and cures range from the polypore that grow on birch bark, used for anti-inflammatory and cancer fighting properties, among other purposes, to usnea, the lichen that is commonly known as old man’s beard, and is powerful as an antibacterial and antiviral, to the spring wild beauty trillium.

Monahan’s portion of the exhibit is titled “Observations from MDI,” and includes about ten small oils of the island, painted at various times and in various locales. His vistas include a moonrise on the water, boulders by the shore, offshore views from MDI, as well as an image of only the thick, rolling ocean. In addition to paintings, Monahan will exhibit a series of drawings.

Originally from Framingham, MA, Monahan was inspired to create this show by the beauty of the island. “I’ve never lived someplace like this before,” he says. “I feel very connected. This project offers me a chance to be outside and to learn to paint a lot of different textures and colors.” Monahan came to COA for the food systems program but found he was spending much of his time painting, drawing, and assisting in the ceramics studio, working closely with artist and COA faculty member Ernie McMullen.

For more information about the exhibits running May 27 to 31 in the Blum Gallery, contact Catherine Clinger at, or call 207-288-5015.

College of the Atlantic was founded in 1969 on the premise that education should go beyond understanding the world as it is, to enabling students to actively shape its future. A leader in experiential education and environmental stewardship, COA has pioneered a distinctive interdisciplinary approach to learning—human ecology—that develops the kinds of creative thinkers and doers needed by all sectors of society in addressing the compelling and growing needs of our world. For more, visit