Maine Arts Commission names five Maine Arts Fellows, other grants

The Maine Arts Commission on Monday announced the five fellows to be awarded its annual $13,000 arts fellowships in literary arts, media and performing arts, visual arts, traditional arts and, in a new category, functional craft. The MAC also awarded 28 other grants to a variety of individual artists, organizations and projects, with awards totaling $116,555.

The five arts fellows this year are Jessica Anthony from Portland (Literary Arts), Cecily Pingree from North Haven (Media and Performing Arts), Anna Hepler from Eastport (Visual Arts), and Bill Mackowski from Milford (Traditional Arts), and Ellen Wieske from Deer Isle (Funcational Craft). Smaller grants were awarded to artists and organizations such as the Western Maine Land Trust, the Camden International Film Festival, the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay, radio drama and podcast creator Fred Greenhalgh of Alfred, and Passamaquoddy basket maker George Neptune, of Princeton.

Ellen Wieske, from Deer Isle, is the Maine Arts Commission’s 2013 Inaugural Functional Craft Fellow. She grew up in Detroit, MI, and received her BA from Wayne State University, MI, and her MFA at Cranbrook Academy of Art, MI. Ellen is a working metal smith and has been a teacher for more than 23 years; she is also assistant director at the Haystack School of Crafts in Deer Isle. She lives and maintains a studio on Deer Isle, where her jewelry and wire work is available. Her wire workshop techniques have been documented and published in the book “Weekend Crafter, Wire” released by Lark Books in October 2001.

Jessica Anthony, from Portland, received her BA in English from Bates College in Lewiston, and her MA in Fine Arts Fiction from George Mason University in Fairfax, VA, where she won the Fiction Thesis Fellowship Prize. Her debut novel, “The Convalescent,” became the inaugural recipient of the McSweeney’s Amanda Davis Highwire Fiction Award. Additional accolades include winning the Summer Literary Seminars fiction contest, and being named a fellow at the MacDowell Colony, the Millay Colony, the Ucross Foundation and at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.

Anna Hepler, from Eastport, received her BA from Oberlin College, OH, and MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She began her artistic investigation through printmaking, and that aesthetic sensibility has remained as a thread while she explores other mediums. Her work can be found in prominent galleries such as the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Tate Gallery, London, England, DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Lincoln, MA, and the Portland Museum of Art.

Bill Mackowski, from Milford, graduated from the University of Maine, where he majored in Wildlife Biology and Ecology. He currently focuses on creating traditional ash pack baskets, fishing creels and snowshoes, but he has worked at a variety of crafts and in different capacities, including commercial fisherman, farmer, full time trapper and bush pilot. He is active in land conservation and has served in a variety of capacities with the Downeast Lakes Land Trust.

Cecily Pingree, from North Haven, is a documentary filmmaker and cinematographer producing work that has focused on political and social issues. Some of her projects have been for The New York Times, National Geographic, and the Gates Foundation. Her work has been supported and recognized by the Sundance Institute, Chicken & Egg Pictures, LEF Foundation, IFP, Maine Arts Commission, and the Maine Community Foundation.

A full listing of all recent grants is available at

Emily Burnham

About Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native, UMaine graduate, proud Bangorian and a writer for the Bangor Daily News, where she's worked since 2004. She reports on everything from local bands to local food to all the cool things going on in the Greater Bangor area. In her quest for stories, she's seen countless concerts and plays, been lobster fishing, interviewed celebrities, hung out with water buffalo and played in a ukulele orchestra. She's interested in everything that happens in Maine.