Sandy Olson

When a woman senses there is a mythical dimension to something she is undertaking, that knowledge touches and inspires deep creative centers in her.

—Jean Shinoda Bolen

olson 1 womanwithpepper

Sandy Olson, Woman with Pepper, acrylic on paper, 20 x 25 in., 2024.

Images activate the deepest part of our brain which indicates to me that what we are seeing, either asleep or awake, is what we most primitively choose to engage with. In this way I tell myself stories, stories in paint. I play with what reveals itself to me, and in so doing have the opportunity to reconnect the many pieces of myself.

olson 2 bigsister

Sandy Olson, Big Sister, acrylic and graphite on paper, 22 x 26 in., 2023.

From the beginning my paintings and, even more directly my drawings, have sprung from my unconscious. I suspect my unconscious was trying to wake me up. In search of sanity, a conscious sense of myself, I continued to explore, in an attempt to make connections.

olson 3 grandmother

Sandy Olson, Grandmother, gouache on paper, 22 x 30 in., 2004.

Early on I had to get out of the way, show up with tools, and let my hand do the reveal. Since I never had extensive art training, I had to believe. Consciously I didn’t. I had to let my unconscious have the reins. This caused, and still can cause, some disruption, some strange choices in my work, some awkwardness.

olson 4 lonegoose

Sandy Olson, Lone Goose, acrylic and graphite on paper, 24 x 36 in., 2021.

That said, forty-plus years on, my goal remains to bring those archetypal image stories out of the shadows and into the world the best I know how. Hopefully some folks will recognize something that stirs them. Are they still simple? Yes. Are they still awkward? Yes. But, if you stop and listen, they might tell you a story.


Kelly Desrosiers

In the early ‘80s I was finishing up my degree in animal and veterinary science in Orono and decided to use my very few elective credits to take a drawing class: Drawing 101. Meanwhile, I had landed one of my most interesting work-study jobs with The Eagle Project. The eagles were critically endangered because of ingesting lead shot. An emergency feeding program was begun whereby isolated spots near known nesting sites would be stocked with lead free food throughout the winter.

Picture this, my workday week, if you dare! I had two food collection jobs. The first was to pick up dead chickens from the big old chicken barns that dotted Waldo County. Farmers would stockpile the culled chickens in big barrels that often sat for weeks. I would throw them one by one in the pickup bed and bring them to a stockpiling area in the university forest. I also made runs to a fur place in Holden where trappers had delivered fur bearing animals which were then skinned. The flayed bodies were discarded in fifty-gallon drums out back. They were soaking in a bloody goo, and when I threw them in the pickup, they often fell apart. The truck dripped. I kept separate clothes for this job, and the smell never came out of them. The furbearers froze in a pile on the ground in the isolated forest clearing, their faces stretched in skinless death grimaces. Many were shot in the head by the trappers so the heads needed to be chopped off. I wore head-to-toe rain gear and a mask and used an axe and a stump. Heads to the right, bodies to the truck bed. Occasionally someone would donate a euthanized horse to the good cause. Thankfully I did not have to use the chainsaw on that one. We would drive to specific sites, including on Cobscook Bay, and deliver the food by kiddie sled in the dark so as not to make a human presence known. Early mornings, 3 a.m., before daylight, I would trek to a small plywood box with a hole in it overlooking the feeding site, which became a scattered ice field across a fifty-foot diameter, and would sit in the box all day reading the bands on eagles using a Questar scope on a tripod pointed out the hole. Taking notes with frozen fingers, my lunch would freeze by mid-morning in the bottom of the sleeping bag I sat in. First, the crows/ravens came in and started feeding, fighting, and cawing. After they established safety the eagles showed up, up to fifty at a site at once, pushing the crows away from choice carcasses. Occasionally foxes, bobcats, coyotes, and others came.

Desrosiers1 RavenandChicken

Kelly Desrosiers, Raven and Chicken, charcoal, 24 x 18 in., 1985.

Meanwhile, in Drawing 101, we were assigned to draw what we saw in our daily life! This led to Raven and Chicken, which was my second drawing ever made in college. It disturbed people. I was being literal and concrete, with no conscious awareness of the effect. Some people thought it was a rape scene. Others saw a yin/yang in it. My next elective class was Figure Drawing. For some unknown reason I drew the nude female models in the center of feeding site circles. The contrasts in my visual experiences of that time compelled it. The models stood or sat or reclined as if surrounded by an audience of dead groupies, nude and vulnerable, with the overwhelming threat hanging in the air. Now, I have never been sexually assaulted, or at least I don’t think so, and anyway, I survived all my risky situations. These definitions have changed in my lifetime. I really did not intend to be provocative. I was just drawing what I saw, and putting that all together in one drawing. This upset people a great deal. I think back on it and certainly can see that life as a young woman had involved vulnerability, objectification, and so on, but I had been determined to never let that stop me from doing anything. I felt this fiercely. Quoting Thomas Hobbes, I knew that nature was “red in tooth and claw,” and my studies of wildlife confirmed this. I did not judge predatory animals in nature and still do not. I can relate to a bird of prey myself, in terms of fierceness of opinion or commitment. A studio mate once called me “ferocious” in the studio after witnessing my intensity when involved in creation. Nevertheless, as artists often do, I destroyed all those drawings (except for this one), not just because I figured they were not my best work but because I thought people might think I was a psychopath if they ever saw them! Unconscious? Art is such a mystery, especially to us artists, who truth be told do not really even know why we make what we make.


Maggie Fehr
Fehr 01 Dream III

Maggie Fehr, Dream III, encaustic and collage, 11 x 7 in.

“The Unconscious, the Unknown, the Unsaid”—this theme describes perfectly a series I did when I was seriously depressed. As the issue theme expresses, I had to go deep into my psyche to create pieces that represented my depression. The encaustic/collage medium gave me the means to draw from the unconscious and create dreamlike landscapes. My practice at that time was totally intuitive, totally drawn from the unknown and unsaid. As I worked on the series, I struggled to transfer my depression onto the wood panels. The wood panels provided not only an appropriate substrate, but also a solid feeling during a very unsolid time in my life.

Fehr 02 Dream IV

Maggie Fehr, Dream IV, encaustic and collage, 13 x 5.5 in.

Fehr 03 Dream V

Maggie Fehr, Dream V, encaustic and collage, 13 x 9 in.

These landscapes just burst from my unconscious. A quote from artist Nellie Mae Rowe describes the way I feel and think about this work: “Most of the things that I draw, I don’t know what they are by name. People say, ‘Nellie, what is that?’ I say I don’t know, it is what it is. That is all I know. But I know one thing, I draw what is in my mind.” For me, I would add to Rowe’s statement: “and in my heart.” I always return to the unconscious as the foundation of my work.

Fehr 04 Dream VI

Maggie Fehr, Dream VI, encaustic and collage, 13 x 5.5 in.


Clara Cohan

Seeking Understanding

There are many layers and ways of diving into the deep, dark, and brilliantly bright realities that shape our lives. Psychological pathways help us discover what has shaped our human behaviors. And there are the spiritual aspects of our lives that embrace and encourage our interconnection with the “All.”


Clara Cohan, Voyager, butternut, cedar, basswood, maple, oil paint, tung oil, gold leaf, Black 3.0, feathers, turquoise stone, aluminum wire, holographic glitter, and clear satin sealer, 11.5 x 30.5 x 5.5 in., .25 x 38 x 16 in. (base).

The Psychological Path

Which is the scarier place? Thinking that something is wrong with me and acting out in self-harming behaviors? Or, deliberately going into realms where truth abides but calls upon me to self-examine and relive painful moments of my life with complete honesty?

Cohan 2 YouAreHere

Clara Cohan, You Are Here, basswood, Bioshield oil primer and varnish, 22.25 x 7.5 x 10.25 in.

My first passage into complete honesty was horrifying and humbling. I hit the bottom of a very deep and dark hole. I had been trying to claw my way out by myself but I just made the hole deeper. Then someone threw me a rope. As they and others pulled me out, inch by inch, I painfully acknowledged all the inner negative thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors that led me to that hole. As the years unfolded, I found self-examination and honesty safe, encouraging, healing, and even an adventure.

The Spiritual Path

How many times have I created a series of paintings or sculptures only to realize that the work was creating itself, leaving a trail of breadcrumbs for me to go deeper into the cosmic source of my Being? The images/messages presented to me were essential to understanding the relationship between the physical reality and the pure energy state of the cosmos.

Cohan 3 ContemplatingOurPlaceInTheUniverse

Clara Cohan, Contemplating Our Place in the Universe, bronze, 46 x 8 x 8 in.

Over many decades, I have come to trust that there is an infinite energetic reality beyond and within this physical world. Stilling the mind through meditation, walking in nature, writing with a stream of consciousness, and allowing forms and images to freely emerge have brought me to where answers/insights arise spontaneously.

Collective Methods of Healing Our Social Pains

Cohan 4 Gathering

Clara Cohan, Gathering, various woods, 26 figures ranging from 6–18 in.

Having learned the positive effects of creating from a non-controlling point of practice, I happily discovered another purpose of the creations that come from this ego-free place. Before this time, works that emerged were more personally informing for both myself and other individuals seeking, knowingly or unknowingly, spiritual/physical alignment. The creation of a recent work, Gathering, developed piece by piece, became an interactive tool for collective collaboration. I have been delighted at this creation’s ability to engage viewers and encourage dialogues that address social issues or playfully create “new” myths about human/spirit interactions and their effects on our societies.


Andre Benoit
benoit 1 reynardthefox

Andre Benoit, Reynard the Fox, wooden assemblage, 24 x 21.75 in.

I have often lamented to friends about having no married sons, and at seventy-two, no prospects of having grandchildren. I have an attic sheltering discoverable keepsakes from past generations. I have imagined in my lifetime grandchildren enthralled with being given permission (as I was, by the only grandparent alive at my birth) to go up to the attic to see what they can find, without leaving a trace they were there, other than the absence of one special thing they found that day. I am reminded that our children don’t share the sentimentalities we seem to wish for, and they get rid of those things we thought they would treasure before we die and leave them with the disposal burden.

benoit 4 onefishtwofishredfishbluefish

Andre Benoit, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, wooden assemblage, 20 x 13 in.


benoit 3 thetrainthatcouldanddid

Andre Benoit, The Train that Could and Did, wooden assemblage, 20 x 33.25 in.

I find myself at times drawn to imagery of children’s stories and their characters and personifications. I wonder if this is a manner of grieving and a hope that a non-familial child would find connection with what I create that might hang in their bedroom.

benoit 2 hennypenny

Andre Benoit, Henny Penny, wooden assemblage, 41.5 x 32 in.






Image at top: Sandy Olson, Big Sister, acrylic and graphite on paper, 22 x 26 in., 2023.