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Bolese earns Congressional Art Award

University of Maine at Presque Isle Early College student Dorcas Bolese received several awards—including a first place Congressional Art Award—for work she’s done in classes with UMPI Art instructor Michelle Mishaan through UMPI’s Houlton Higher Education Center.

Bolese, a senior from Yarmouth High School, has taken two of Mishaan’s art classes. She received a Congressional Art Award for her Self Portrait in Oil, which she completed in Mishaan’s painting class originating from the Houlton Center. Her painting will be framed and put on display in the Cannon Tunnel, Washington, D.C. A photo print of the work was on display May 14-21 at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art in Rockland. Bolese also received several awards from the Maine College of Art and Design, including a Gold Key, Silver Key, and three honorable mentions, for her Self Portrait in Graphite, completed in Mishaan’s Houlton drawing class.

Bolese took her first early college course—a hybrid drawing course with students participating online and in-person—with Mishaan last fall.

“I felt like there would be a disconnect in getting help with the online students versus in-person students,” Bolese recalled. “However, it turned out quite well because whenever I needed help with anything, I was able to email or get a response in class and outside of class. And because I took painting with Michelle after taking the drawing course, it was an easy experience because she already knew me and how I learned most efficiently online.”

Bolese said taking a college art course helped to sharpen her skills and expand her horizons: “I tried a lot of things that I know I never would have delved into otherwise, like abstract line art and landscape painting.”

Mishaan explained that’s the beauty of an early college course.

“What I find wonderful about the University of Presque Isle is our ability to get to know our students in each class; tailor their learning experience in such a way to meet their needs while still challenging them to reach higher levels of understanding and develop their artistic skills,” Mishaan said.

Bolese has lots of plans for the future, including collaborating with a Maine author on a children’s book project, creating a public mural in her hometown, and developing a webcomic idea with her sisters. Getting college experience under her belt while still in high school has helped her to see a world filled with opportunities.

“I learned that I like college courses because there is more liberty and room to make the art that you want, which makes me more excited for my next chapter in higher education,” she said.