Freeport students to exhibit African-inspired art

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FREEPORT — Hana Tallan and her children will get a color-splashed welcome to town this week thanks to artwork created by nearly two dozen high school students.

Tallan is a Somalian who will be moving into a house built by Habitat for Humanity volunteers. To celebrate her arrival and help show the story of her journey to America, the students will be exhibiting two- and three-dimensional art on Friday from 5-8 p.m. at the Via Agency in Portland.

The exhibit at the advertising agency at 619 Congress St. is part of Portland’s First Friday Art Work. Refreshments will be served and music will be provided by members of the Freeport High School jazz band.

Admission is free, but contributions to Habitat for Humanity are welcome, Regional School Unit 5 Student Aspirations Coordinator Dede Bennell said.

Freeport students who sculpted, drew and painted contributions for the exhibit said they were inspired by Tallan’s accounts about coming to America.

“I was extremely touched by her stories and I hope that in this small way I can help spread awareness about Hana and all the other refugees in our community who are in similar situations,” Eliza Smith-Sitnick said.

Sitnick used a magazine photo of an African woman for her painting, she said, because “her imploring eyes and fragility intrigued me.”

Gabriel Tilton drew a child carrying a water bucket because Tallan’s words created such visual strength for him. He said he also has an uncle now living in Africa.

“I wanted to try to show how much more people in Africa have to work for what we take for granted,” Tilton said.

A drawing by Ellis Price shows the gray face of a woman made more stark by the emergence of blue teardrops, reflecting Price’s desire to imagine Tallan’s journey.

“My goal in my piece was to translate the emotion that these immigrant must feel when moving to an unfamiliar place,” Price said.

The exhibit at the agency is not specifically a fundraiser, but Bennell said there is a possibility that postcards of the art work will be made and sold to benefit Habitat for Humanity.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow David on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

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Freeport High School student Eliza Smith-Sitnick’s painting of a woman in a traditional muslim scarf was copied from a magazine photo by Andrew Stanbridge. “Her imploring eyes and fragility intrigued me,” Smith-Sitnick said. The painting will be on display Friday from 5-8 p.m. at the Via Agency, 619 Congress St., Portland.

“I knew a little about the life in Africa, but hearing that from a person who didn’t know anything else until they came to America was a different experience,” Freeport student Gabriel Tilton said, describing the inspiration for his drawing depicting an African child. The work will be on display at the Via Agency, 619 Congress St., Portland, on Friday from 5-8 p.m.

Freeport High School student Ellis Price said this drawing of an African woman was inspired by the story told by a Somali immigrant coming to live in town at a home built by Habitat for Humanity. “My goal … was to translate the emotion that these immigrant must feel when moving to an unfamiliar place,” Price said.

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Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.