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Midcoast Artists embrace heritage art rorm for Trekkers Online Art Auction

ROCKLAND – Over 20 custom-built pieces of art from artists across midcoast Maine are standing by at the Trekkers office in Rockland. They are awaiting their debut at the week-long Trekkers' Online Art Auction, opening Aug. 1 and closing with final bids on Aug. 8. Previewing the art is free and open to the public — a sneak peek is available now on the Trekkers website. Registration is free but will be required in order to bid.

This heritage art form is called a Sailor's Valentine, in which 19th century sailors would bring home a multi-sided wooden box, similar to a shadow box, decorated intricately with shellcraft, trinkets and anything else they'd found along the journey. Vice President, Appraiser and Auctioneer John Bottero of Thomaston Place Auction reported on this form in an article in MaineHomes.

To Executive Director Amie Hutchison, this six-sided form seemed to be a fitting canvas to represent the six-year journey that Trekkers students embark upon, from seventh through 12th grade. Artists were challenged to make choices about the piece – for example, should it hang or sit on a tabletop? Should it be interactive? Should it be something to open or should the form frame the piece, or maybe something else? What type of journey would it express? What should the medium be, traditional shellcraft or otherwise? Artists were given only the wooden box and otherwise free range to explore the theme of "journey." Many artists provided details about their interpretations, like Ariel Hall who shared, "rather than pulling from various destinations, as sailors did, I pulled from my various stocks of collections to explore internal "destinations." Other artists, like Greg Mort pictured shared images to bring viewers along for the journey.

What has returned to Trekkers can only be described as a parade of incredibly diverse pieces, each one distinctively crafted in the style of the artist. The collection is playful, interactive, traditional, modern, thought-provoking, relevant and so much more. Trekkers encourages the public to view Sneak Peeks of the works at the event page and to return Saturday, Aug. 1 to view the full online gallery, complete with artist bios and their creative process or bid on these specially-crafted piece of midcoast art until the auction closes Aug. 8.

All proceeds will go to support Trekkers, a youth mentoring organization whose programs ensure local students have critical access to mentors and support for social-emotional wellbeing. According to research from America's Promise Alliance in their report The State of Young People during COVID-19, "findings suggest students are experiencing a collective trauma and that they and their families would benefit from immediate and ongoing support for basic needs, physical and mental health, and learning opportunities. Without that support, this moment in time is likely to have lasting negative effects for this cohort of high school students."

This event is made possible thanks to First National Bank and The Mort Family Foundation Art of Stewardship. Trekkers is grateful to all participating artists for sharing their talents. Their generosity provides Trekkers the opportunity to fund raise and ensure local students have access to caring mentors, opportunities to develop interests and support in building resiliency.

About Trekkers: Trekkers is a non-profit youth mentoring organization serving grade 7-12 students from Owls Head, Thomaston, South Thomaston, Rockland, Cushing and St. George. Trekkers' mission is to cultivate the inherent strengths of young people through the power of long-term mentoring relationships. Their outdoor and experiential education programs have shown to strengthen resiliency, raise aspirations, help students define post-secondary goals, and increase their sense of connection to their communities. Learn more about Trekkers and their newly-developed Summer Programs that adhere to the latest safety recommendations on their website at trekkers.org.

Trekkers also offers training to educators and youth development professionals seeking opportunities to improve social-emotional outcomes for young people through the Trekkers Training Institute. To learn more about professional development opportunities, please visit the Trekkers Training Institute website at trekkersinstitute.org.

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