LEWISTON — L/A Arts, the arts agency for Lewiston and Auburn, has announced a new initiative, Artist Days in L-A.

The first edition will be a tribute to award-winning author, multimedia artist and storyteller, Ashley Bryan. Her most recent book, “Freedom over Me,” about the imagined lives of 11 slaves, is the recipient of the Newbery Medal and Honor.

“Ashley Bryan Days in L-A”will unfold over two months, beginning in April, with in-school puppetry workshops by Figures of Speech Theatre, inspired by Ashley Bryan’s storytelling and puppets.

On Saturday, April 29, the Emerge Film Festival will screen a feature documentary about Ashley Bryan’s life and work by filmmaker Richard Kane, titled “I Know a Man … Ashley Bryan.”

On the weekend of May 6, the Atrium Gallery at University of Southern Maine’s Lewiston-Auburn College will open an exhibit of large-format images of Ashley Bryan’s puppets, alongside the work made by the students, in an exhibit running through June 2.

In a joint announcement, Lewiston and Auburn mayors Robert Macdonald and Jonathan LaBonte stated, “The Twin Cities are pleased to proclaim the first Artist Days in L-A, beginning with a tribute to Ashley Bryan, a man whose many artistic achievements have inspired generations. Artist Days in L-A will contribute to an enduring impression of our cities’ respect for the important role the arts play in the growth and well-being of the community and its citizens.”

L/A Arts Director Louise Rosen said, “Ashley Bryan is a national treasure, and his much-beloved books have touched children and families everywhere. As seen in the documentary film, he is a prodigious artist in many media, from stained glass to paint to collage, as well as poetry and song.”

Ashley Bryan first came to Maine, after serving in World War II, to attend the Skowhegan School of Art. He settled here permanently in 1988 after retiring as emeritus professor of art at Dartmouth College.

Bryan, who was not published until he was 40 years old, has written and illustrated over 50 books, based on African folktales, or inspired by African-American spirituals and lives. He has won numerous awards and nominations, including a Fulbright Fellowship and the prestigious Laura Ingalls Wilder and John Newbery Medals. He lives in Islesford, on Little Cranberry Island.

Maine Magazine is the exclusive magazine sponsor of “Ashley Bryan Days in L-A.” Additional sponsorships are available.


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