Based on a Cherokee myth, “How Rabbit Brought Fire to the People” is a mixed media work by Johanna Finnegan-Topitzer, who has been chosen for Acadia National Park’s 2018-2019 Artists-in-Residence Program. IMAGE COURTESY OF JOHANNA FINNEGAN-TOPITZER

Acadia’s artists-in-residence chosen

Four visual artists, two writers and a composer have been selected for Acadia National Park’s 2018-2019 Artist-in-Residence Program, which starts in September.

Each of the participants will be at Acadia for at least two weeks, creating works of art and leading activities for the public. And within a year of their residency, each will donate a finished work to the park’s collection that “conveys a fresh, new perspective of Acadia,” according to a park press release.

The visual artists chosen for the program are Natalie Andrew, Charlie Buckley, Sue Charles and Johanna Finnegan-Topitzer.

As both an artist and a professional biologist, Andrew “crosses the boundaries that separate art and science, allowing them to feed off each other,” according to the park’s description of her work. “[Her] explorations converge around mosses, slime molds and other denizens of the forest floor.”

Andrew holds a master’s degree in cognitive science and a doctorate in biology from the University of Birmingham in England.

Buckley has taught painting and drawing at the University of Mississippi, Mississippi State University and Miami University, where he earned a master’s degree in fine arts. His work is currently in the bicentennial exhibition at the Mississippi Museum of Arts. He has received the Visual Arts Award from the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters and a fellowship from the Mississippi Arts Commission.

Charles, who lives part of the year in Lamoine, paints along the New England coast, “translating the landscape into abstract hierarchical relationships of light and color.”

She has won numerous awards for her work, which is exhibited in galleries in Maine and Massachusetts. She is a graduate of Boston University’s College of Fine Arts and teaches oil painting.

Finnegan-Topitzer began depicting ancient legends and myths in her art after studying folklore in Ireland.

“My artwork tells stories … about animals and the relationship between humans and animals,” she said. “Most cultures have stories about how animals helped shape our world, and these are the folktales that I want to celebrate.”

An accomplished bookbinder as well as a painter and mixed-media artist, she has received numerous awards for her work.

Writers and composer

Andrea Lepcio is a playwright best known for “Looking for the Pony,” which was a finalist for two prestigious honors: the Dramatists Guild Hull-Warriner Award and the NEA Outstanding New American Play Award. Her other plays include “Strait of Gibraltar” and “Tunnel Vision.”

A resident of Bar Harbor, Lepcio teaches at College of the Atlantic, where she received her bachelor’s degree before earning a master’s in dramatic writing at Carnegie Mellon University. She also teaches at the Dramatists Guild Institute in New York.

Kim O’Connell has written articles and essays for publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Huffington Post, “Ladies Home Journal,” National Parks Traveler, National Geographic News and “Civil War Times.” Her writing has covered topics from nature and conservation to history and historic preservation, education and parenting.

O’Connell has won numerous awards for her writing and has been an artist-in-residence at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. She is a professor in Johns Hopkins University’s Master of Arts in Science Writing program.

Rachel Panitch is a violinist and composer who performs classical music with the Boston-based Cardamom Quartet and is a fiddler with French Roast, which plays French Canadian and Cajun music. She also improvises with audiences as part of the violin trio Thread Ensemble.

She has been chosen as a Jubilation Fellow, a national award honoring musicians with “exceptional talent for helping young people feel fully alive through rhythm.”

Panitch has been an artist-in-residence at Zion National Park in Utah. She holds a master’s of music in contemporary improvisation from the New England Conservatory.

Acadia’s 2018-2019 artists-in-residence were chosen from nearly 200 applicants from 39 states and three foreign countries. Three panels of jurors who reviewed the applications included local artists, gallery owners, authors and other community members, as well as park staff.



Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]

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