FARMINGTON — Weaving sticks and litter around small logs and patting in a little mud, art students created a large sculpture of a beaver dam in Abbott Park at the University of Maine at Farmington.

The university’s mascot is a beaver.

The three students worked quickly Thursday, preparing the art piece before their instructor, assistant professor Jesse Potts. It was moved onto the cement dam of Rollo Pond.

Sculpture class students Leslie Mercier, a senior from Norridgewock, and juniors Sarah Manley of Windsor and Jennifer Gravrock of Minnesota included natural and manmade materials atop concrete for their final sculpture project.

Paper cups, plastic bags and beer cans — litter picked up from around the pond and the stream area across the street — are woven between the sticks.

“We’re helping to clean up, but it also represents how trash affects the beaver,” Mercier said. 


Potts gave the students a few parameters.

It had to be in Abbott Park and include manmade and natural materials, Manley said.

The students built a wooden frame and covered it with chicken wire. The wind took it apart and they rebuilt it, Mercier said. Mud from the pond was intermingled throughout the woven sticks and materials.

They have about 10 hours of work in the project, he added.

After Potts arrived, the four figured how to accomplish the challenging feat of moving the structure a few feet and attempting to pull it across the water-soaked cement without falling in. The students wanted the object to sit above the water. 

The whole class was about to gather for a presentation of projects. Teams created four or five art pieces within the park, Manley said.


The class started this semester with an assignment to make a sculpture with paper, cardboard and glue. Next, was to increase its size, he said. The last task centered on a body modification. They took a part of the body and created a sculpture to use with it.

For Mercier, it was a handheld weed whacker strapped to his arm, he said.

With an elementary teaching major, Manley works with a lot of young students, she said. The assignment came when many were sniffling around her, she added. 

She created a sneeze guard, an arm piece to store items such as tissues and hand sanitizer.

With finals starting this week and graduation on Saturday, students thought they would take their manmade beaver dam down within a few days.

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