The Maine Arts Journal is partnering with Freedom & Captivity, a statewide, collaborative, public humanities initiative that enlists the power of art to envision an alternative abolitionist future in Maine. We invite all artists and makers to contribute to this vision by making work about the relationship between freedom and captivity and alternatives to incarceration. Of particular interest is work that reflects and inspires the abolitionist imagination and themes of liberation, freedom, collectivity, mutuality, anti-racism, and communities of care.

CLICK HERE to read more about the goals and context for the Freedom & Captivity initiative and the many programs, exhibits, etc. that will be occurring state-wide.

theme and invitation anonymous prison industrial state image copy

Anonymous, Prison Industrial State.

The Maine Arts Journal‘s “Invitation to Submit” is usually limited to UMVA members and shown in the Members’ Showcase. Given the collective imagining that this project calls for, we are opening the submissions to all artists, with the belief that artistic vision is a powerful force for the common good. The MAJ looks forward to including your diverse approaches to the theme. The submission guidelines are at the end.

We’ve been having a lively discussion among the Journal editors and would like to share some of the questions we raised on the way and where we ended up.

  • Do we want to show work that might be about cultural/psychological/emotional captivity, about paralysis, or about being mired in cliches, captive of others’ expectations?
  • Is the theme about the freedom of making choices and decisions in one’s art—and also of artistic self-awareness and the freedom to decide who you want to be?
  • Is it about innovation and “breaking free” from habits or from what you were taught?
  • Is it about liberating oneself, or others? Is the primary focus self, or is it others?

The personal struggles that artists confront about choice and freedom might find their way into the work, but we think that at the core of the project is a call to re-imagine societal structures and attitudes. “Collectivity, mutuality:” these reach out to artistic collaboration and the opening of the heart and imagination to one another. Rather than strengthening the individual ego, they seem to call for going beyond, to remove the barriers between self and other. What makes this project different from other themes we have addressed in the Maine Arts Journal, is that sense of a society being re-envisioned and the call for artists to help make that process visual for themselves, naturally, but perhaps, mostly, as a community service. How artists envision freedom in their art, and visually express the concepts or feelings of release from oppression, might suggest a vision of an abolitionist future.

Share your work with us for the Fall issue of the Maine Arts Journal and let us know how you express the theme.

Journal Submission guidelines for Freedom & Captivity

Deadline: 1 September 2021.

  • We invite all Maine artists to submit up to 4 JPEG or png images (NO TIFF files), approximately 2000 pixels on largest side, resolution 72dpi.
  • Include an image list and statement or brief essay (600 words or less) in Word doc. format, NOT a PDF.
  • Label each image file as follows: your last name_Number of Image_Title (with no spaces in the title). Please DO NOT put whole caption/credit in image file label, see image list/caption format below (if you are submitting for a group put your own last name in first).
  • Label your document file names: Last Name_Title
  • Image list/caption format: create a list that is numbered to match the number in your image file label that includes the following: Artist’s Name, Title of Work, medium, size (example: 9 x 12 in.), date (optional), photo credit (example: photo: Ansel Adams) if not included we assume it is courtesy of the artist. Example: Unknown Artist, Untitled, oil on canvas, 9 x 12 in., 2000 (photo: Ansel Adams).
  • Please wait until all of your material is compiled to submit.

Put “Freedom & Captivityin the subject line and submit by email to by the 1 September deadline. MAJ will not limit the submissions for this theme to UMVA Members. You are also welcome to submit even if we have published your work in the past year.

We are no longer able to accommodate artists’ pre-formatted visual essays. Our editors will lay-out text and images submitted using the new guidelines above.

It is the MAJ’s policy to request and then publish image credits. We will not publish images the submitter does not have the right to publish. However, it is to be assumed that any uncredited or unlabeled images are the author’s/submitter’s own images. By submitting to the MAJ, you are acknowledging respect for these policies.

Thank you,

MAJ Editorial Board

Natasha Mayers, Nora Tryon, Véronique Plesch, and Betsy Sholl (poetry editor)


ARRT!, banner for Freedom & Captivity: Art on Abolition.


Image at top: Anonymous, Israeli Security Wall.