Ashley Bryan has received the Maine in America Award from the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland. Photo by Sarah Beard Buckley

Artist, author and storyteller Ashley Bryan will receive the 2022 Maine in America Award from the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, the museum announced Thursday. The Maine in America Award is given each year to an individual or group who has made an outstanding contribution to Maine’s role in American art.

“Bryan is an immensely talented artist, author, and storyteller who has contributed so much to American art and Maine’s artistic heritage. He is a cultural treasure,” Farnsworth Director Christopher J. Brownawell said in a news release.

Bryan, who turned 98 in July, came to Maine in 1946 to attend the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. That summer, he visited Little Cranberry Island and he has lived on the island since retiring from Dartmouth College in 1988. He has begun spending more time with his family in Texas, and recently left Maine for Texas after several months on the island.

Born in Harlem and raised in the Bronx, Bryan entered Cooper Union School of Art and Engineering at age 17 and was drafted out of art school into the U.S. Army two years later. He landed at Omaha Beach during the D-Day invasion, and completed his Cooper Union degree after the war. In addition to a long teaching career at Queen’s College, Philadelphia College of Art, Lafayette College and Dartmouth College, Bryan has written and illustrated numerous children’s books and other books and maintained an active career as a painter, illustrator, puppet-maker and stained-glass artist.

In a statement, Bryan said, “I am so honored to be recognized as the Farnsworth 2022 Maine in America honoree as I enter my 98th year. This recognition is more than a tribute to me; it is the tribute to all artists of Maine and especially those of color as it impacts on the role Maine plays in the art of America. It is my hope that through my art, all artists will see what is beautiful in themselves and explore something of art. Making art is one of the most adventurous experiences you can have – so always make art and create stories around ideas that you have.”

Among his awards, Bryan has received the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Lifetime Achievement Award, the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal, and the New York Public Library’s Literary Lions award. The Farnsworth is planning a display of the artist’s work for the summer of 2022.


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