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In the fall of 2006, when she was finishing her master's degree in art, Rachel Dove got a wonderful graduation present.
Dove was awarded a highly coveted nine-week summer fellowship at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Skowhegan, Maine, where she could work and study with world-renowned artists.
"When I received the e-mail regarding my acceptance to the program, I was ecstatic" Dove said. "The competitive nature of Skowhegan was a little overwhelming, but I was extremely excited to have the opportunity to work with some of the most talented and energetic contemporary artists."
Only 3.9 percent of the people who apply for Skowhegan are accepted, so Dove was in an elite group.
“The program is considered one of the best residencies in the country,” Dove said. “The nine-week work period includes supportive and critical assistance from distinguished faculty and visiting artists.”
On her first day, Dove attended a formal introduction of faculty and staff, toured the campus, selected studio spaces, accepted cottage accommodations and selected preferred campus jobs.
“Every participant is assigned a six-hour-a-week monitor job on the first week,” said Dove. “My monitor job was special events. I worked with six other participants who organized field trips, social gatherings and other art-related events such as film screenings and performances.”
Each week consisted of lectures, art-related films, screenings, performances, workshops, group discussions and Fresco workshops, which were available to all residents on a sign-up basis. Also included in the agenda were critiques from resident artists, visiting artists, individuals and groups.
The daily agenda consisted of work in the studio, research in the provided library and critiques from staff, participants and visiting artists. Participants even had the opportunity to explore 300 acres of forest, pastures and lakefront.
“The Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture is a cross between a traditional school and a retreat,” Dove said. “The program provided the most stimulating and rigorous environment possible for artistic creation and interaction.”
According to the Skowhegan Web site, “Alumni often report that the intensity of the Skowhegan experience has had a profound effect on their work and their lives. In order to allow others entry, no participant is allowed to return for a second summer. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Dove said she definitely agrees.
“My favorite part of the school was having the chance to meet and work with some of the most brilliant contemporary artists,” said Dove. “The opportunities and experience during and after the program are remarkable and unforgettable.”
Dove always wanted to attend Skowhegan, and now she has.
Dove is living in Columbus, Ohio, where she will be exhibiting in the spring of 2008 and teaching in the fall.