Shifting Sands: Beaches, Bathers, and Modern Maine Art

Shifting Sands, guest curated by Donna Cassidy, Professor Emerita at the University of Southern Maine, explores the unique place the beach holds in modern art. The sun-drenched shore was a place of leisure and a refuge as people of all classes sought escape from the modern city, its pollution and social constraints. On the beach, people could gaze at the sea and at scantily clad bodies on display in a way not acceptable in ordinary life. Sensual if not sexual, swimmers and sun-tanning bathers embodied this liberation, this anti-modernity. While the beach continues to have these associations, it is now viewed as a fragile environment subject to a changing climate and human impact. Shifting Sands examines these themes. The show begins with a study of the artists of the Ogunquit art schools in the early 20th century, then looks beyond Ogunquit to the working-class resorts from Old Orchard Beach to Atlantic City. Finally, the exhibition focuses upon recent Maine artists who are rethinking the beach and looking closely at the ecology of this ever-evolving locale.

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