MAJ theme Boltanski copy
Christian Boltanski, Tiroir (Drawer), black-and-white photograph, clothes in tin drawer covered with mesh, and clip lamp, 1988, Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA (photo: Véronique Plesch).

Invitation and Theme – Winter 2023: Absence/Presence?

L’unica presenza era l’assenza. (The only presence was absence.)

—Claudio Parmiggiani

Acknowledging an absence makes it present. After all, these two notions are not mutually exclusive but rather, they enter into a fecund dialogue. How do you express absence? How do you engage with remembering and forgetting, erasing, and hiding and revealing? Do you use your art to memorialize absent persons or to process trauma (in a certain way, moving towards being able to let go and even forget)? Do you work in an additive or subtractive manner or both? Do you completely erase or do you maintain a ghostly presence of what you have removed? Do you cut out and/or paste in? As you consider such ideas, you might also think about the impact such modus operandi has on the way you think about continuity and discontinuity, figure and ground, along with your handling of mediums such as collage or drawing. We invite you to explore these concepts and reflect upon how they manifest themselves in your work both thematically and in your artistic process.

MAJ Theme KaraWalker use this one copy

Kara Walker, The Rich Soil Down There, cut paper and adhesive on painted wall, 15 x 33 ft., 2002 (courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston),

The Maine Arts Journal theme for the Winter 2023 issue appears online 1 January 2023; the deadline for articles is 1 December 2022.

Guidelines for UMVA MEMBER submisions:

4 JPEG or png images (NO TIFF files), approximately 2800 pixels in width, resolution 72dpi.

  • Include an image list and essay 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 “Absence Presence?” in the subject line and submit by email to by the 1 December 2022 deadline.

Do not send preformatted visual essays. Our editors will lay out text and images submitted using the 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.

MAJ Theme Before my Birth 1914 Jean Arp WikiArt org copy

Jean (Hans) Arp, Before my Birth, collage, 4 ⅜ x 3 ⅝ in., 1914, Private Collection.


Thank you,

MAJ Editorial Board: Natasha Mayers, Nora Tryon, Véronique Plesch, and Betsy Sholl (poetry editor)