Pippin Frisbie-Calder delivers an artist talking during her solo exhibition “Resurgence” at LeMieux Galleries in New Orleans. Frisbie-Calder is a printmaker and environmental artist/activist from Maine, currently living in New Orleans, and will be in residence at Waterfall Arts in September 2022. Photo by Meg Turner

Pippin Frisbie-Calder first moved to Maine when she was 8. Her mother was an artist and her father a writer and conservationist.

“I grew up in a very artistic environment,” said Frisbie-Calder, now 36. “I was homeschooled, so I was always going out in nature and making art about what I saw.”

When she attended Kents Hill, a private boarding school in central Maine, for high school, she gravitated toward a small group of local kids and an even smaller group of “art kids.”

“It was great because we had all this access to the art department without having to fight over anything,” she said.

Frisbie-Calder left Maine for college at the Rhode Island School of Design and has been more or less traveling ever since – making art and teaching wherever she goes. Most recently, she’s been in Louisiana teaching at Tulane University. Increasingly, though, her work was informed by the childhood she spent in the small, inland Midcoast town of Alna, and more specifically by the environmental stewardship that was paramount to so many of the households that surrounded her.

This month will serve as a homecoming for Frisbie-Calder, who was selected as artist-in-residence at Waterfall Arts in Belfast, just up the coast from where she grew up.


Frisbie-Calder, who describes herself as an environmental printmaker, will spend September making art at the community art center that was founded in 2000 and engaging with students from the Belfast Community Outreach Program in Education.

Waterfall Arts has had residencies in the past, but Chris Battaglia, the organization’s marketing manager, said it’s trying to bolster that program. Belfast has a long history as an artist-friendly community.

“We hope to support multiple artists each year if we can make it happen,” he said. “It’s such a great way to get the community engaged and to reach area youth.”

Frisbie-Calder’s prints and art installations have been shown widely around New Orleans, including a solo exhibit at the New Orleans Contemporary Art Center, and elsewhere in the U.S., as well as in countries where she has traveled, from Canada to Indonesia. Her love of travel was instilled early. With her parents and younger brother, they often spent summers sailing to the Caribbean or across the Atlantic to places like Portugal.

She’s done artist residencies in the past, too. During one, she taught for free and had to pay for materials. At another, she lived in a fancy house on an island and was treated “like a queen.”

At Waterfall Arts, which offers classes and a variety of open studios for local artists and also hosts exhibits, Frisbie-Calder said she’s been given freedom to structure the residency around her interests. Having her family nearby is a bonus.


“I think, in the most successful opportunities, you build relationships that can last for years,” she said.

She already has one.

In addition to the residency at Waterfall Arts, Frisbie-Calder is working with Maine Audubon to make prints for the organization’s Project Puffin, which focuses on seabird conservation.

In some ways, it’s an extension of a project she’s already been working on. Frisbie-Calder completed an installation that included more than 400 hand-cut and silk-screened birds, representing different species in Louisiana, an area whose wildlife has been greatly impacted by climate change. The birds covered a massive a wall inside the St. Tammany Art Association. Once the installation opened, viewers were encouraged to remove a bird and take it home, an interactive experience that simulated species extinction.

Artist Pippin Frisbie-Calder with her work “Canceled Edition: the Art of Birding,” a site specific installation of hundreds of handprinted birds. Viewers are invited to remove a bird from the wall to take home to simulate a local extinction. Photo by Meg Turner

Frisbie-Calder said people make art for a variety of reasons, and they are all important and valid, but she has come to consider her work “art as activism.”

“I think this comes from my dad and growing up around all these conservationists,” she said. Her dad was president of the Sheepscot Valley Conservation Association and helped preserve thousands of acres. “I think what you do should somehow contribute to a better world. That’s what makes me love the work. Not just making something pretty but being able to contribute to a larger conversation.”

During her residency at Waterfall Arts, Frisbie-Calder plans to explore climate change effects by working with students to select locally threatened or extinct species and creating their own unique art projects.

Battaglia said the pandemic was hard on so many arts organizations, but staff has been excited about Frisbie-Calder’s arrival.

“A lot of our programs had taken a hiatus, but we’ve been bringing them back, and the building is buzzing again,” he said. “We just want a building full of creativity and hum.”

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