Art and Maine – Connecting People with Place

On October 20, Professor Tanya Sheehan and her Art and Maine class, AR347, visited with Jamie and Phylis Wyeth in Tenants Harbor to view three generations of Wyeth art.  After the visit, the class departed Port Clyde for Allen Island where they spent the night.  Allen Island was purchased and developed by Betsy Wyeth and is now owned and administered by the Up East Foundation.   Student reflections (Sheehan Maine Art 2017) capture the impact of the program from the student perspective.

“When I learned Colby was partnering with the Wyeth’s to have select classes visit Allen island I was immediately captivated. Sophomore year I tried to accompany the chemistry department to no avail, before specifically signing up for AR347: Art and Maine so I could travel to the location. Although my expectations were set extremely high (thanks to my own engagement with the mythos surrounding the island) I truly had the experience of a lifetime. Being able to visit the landscape that inspired one of my greatest artistic influences was illuminating, and helped me understand Andrew’s work in a way I could have never achieved without this trip. Not to mention being able to meet Jamie Wyeth, and speaking with him both about his artwork and working in Maine. I applied to Colby without ever thinking such an opportunity could be made available for me, and now I am part of one of the first art-history courses to engage with the island.”

 “I found the architecture of Allen Island to be so fitting with the landscape. I felt transported on the island, as if I was in a fairy tale in some idyllic European village. Arriving off the boat to a herd of sheep chewing at the bright green grass behind the house where we were to stay was a welcome surprise. Wandering the island, I felt it was so much bigger than I had expected. As I explored, I began to feel how undeniably Maine the island really is. Speaking to Jamie and Phyllis Wyeth before departing from Port Clyde was so special and provided us with such amazing insight into Jamie’s work and the work of his father and grandfather. My visit to Allen Island was very educational and special, and I’m incredibly grateful for having had the opportunity to visit.”


“Allen Island is a prefect combination of sea culture and Wyeth family culture. The island, the ocean, all the animals living on the island, the Wyeth family members, and even the workers on the island are integrated as an entity.  … I didn’t realize they are inseparable from each other until saw the island far away on the ocean, and of course after really exploring the island.”

“The Wyeth family owns the island and it is like a magical place “created”, designed, and constructed by the family, even though Andrew Wyeth’s wife, Betsy, should take most of the credit. The grey houses, the scattered ponds, and the roads are well designed, not only being super functional, but also to fit into the picturesque landscape. The three great artists from the Wyeth family live there and create extraordinary drawings and paintings on the island, depicting the island and the ocean. Their artworks are meant to record every single beautiful detail on and around the island – seagulls, lambs, trees, small hills, waves, boats, and etc. The landscape is also so inclusive that the artists can include their dreams and imaginations in the whole context of this island and the sea. Moreover, the workers on the island employed by the Wyeth family are so dedicated to what they’re doing because they love this place, this “small world” they built together with the Wyeth family.”