“Mushroom Forest,” by Abbas A., fourth grade. Contributed / Portland Museum of Art

The Portland Museum of Art will display works made by young artists across Maine this month to encourage and showcase the creativity and talents of students in the state.

A celebration of Youth Art Month will be held at the museum on Saturday and the artwork will be on display for all of March.

Youth Art Month is an annual month-long exhibition meant to garner support and advocacy for youth art access all year round. Art educators select students who have exhibited a notable skill or excitement for art and submit their work to be displayed as part of the show.

“Any art educator who works directly with students can participate and select students for the show,” said Elise Pelletier, visual arts educator at Scarborough High School, who has spent six years coordinating and marketing for Youth Art Month. We have a digital gallery as well, which motivates members who don’t live as close to Portland who want to participate.”

This will be the show’s second year back in person since the pandemic, with the previous two years being entirely digital.

“Untitled,” by Vedshri Thapa, 11th grade. Contributed / Portland Museum of Art

Pelletier said that this year, the museum got additional funding to provide more merchandise to students and teachers who participate.


“Kids get a certificate of participation, and this year will also get an embroidered beanie and enamel pins that say ‘artist,'” she said.

For the kids who participate, Pelletier said, having their own art pieces displayed in the museum is a big deal and she loves to see family and friends celebrating this achievement with their young artists.

Meghan Quigley Graham, learning and teaching manager at the museum, has been involved with Youth Art Month for close to 10 years, and she looks forward to working on it every year.

“We have a celebration for families and educators of artists and there’s so much joy in that room,” she said. “It’s really incredible to see the faces of artists as they see their art hung up on the walls, and sharing that joy with their families and art teachers. It’s one of the most joyful and hopeful events we have at the museum.”

Graham said the PMA believes in and supports access to art, especially in schools.

“It is essential,” she said. “Being engaged in some way with art provides avenues for self-expression, creativity and problem-solving.”


Pelletier said she hopes this initiative will help encourage art to be made more central to education.

“Art is considered this ‘other’ in how we view learning in schools,” she said. “These are real skills and real talent that these kids have … Giving kids opportunities in the classroom to advocate for these experiences is why we do shows like this.”

Graham said the museum will continue to “advocate for art all year round, especially for youth.”

“Art is what makes us human, and makes us better in communication and understanding the world around us,” Graham said. “We’ve got a lot of variety and every piece makes me smile in a different way.”

The Portland Museum of Art’s Community Celebration for Youth Art Month will be held March 9 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the museum at 7 Congress Square. This will include certificate ceremonies throughout the day on the lower ground floor. The exhibition is open through the end of March during regular museum hours, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays and Wednesday through Saturday, except Fridays, when the museum is open until 8 p.m.

To view the digital gallery of the Youth Art Month exhibit, go to portlandmuseum.org/yam2024.

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