News & Events

Henry Dean to deliver Libra lecture

The University of Maine at Presque Isle will present Henry Dean, Georgia-based artist and Savannah College of Art and Design professor, as a 2023-2024 Libra Distinguished Lecture Series speaker on Wednesday, March 6 at 6:30 p.m. in the Campus Center. During his talk, Sharing a Cosmic Journey, Dean will discuss the April 8, 2024 total solar eclipse and the artworks he created—including one on the UMPI campus—to celebrate and coincide with it. The event is free and the public is encouraged to attend.

Dean is the creator of an art installation series titled Now and then, outdoor sculptures that stretch from Texas to Maine along the solar eclipse’s “path of totality.”  This “project with a cosmic focus” honors landscapes and proclaims humanity’s relationship with the environment. The series’ northernmost installation connects two locations: one sculpture at UMPI in front of South Hall and two more along the Meduxnekeag River on Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians land in Houlton. Other sculptures are located in: Del Rio, Texas; Cape Giradeau, Missouri; and Vincennes, Bloomington, and Indianapolis, Indiana.

“This project is about being inspired by and expressing a wonder for Nature,” Dean said. “It’s also about communicating awareness and appreciation of ecosystems through science and Arts education.”

Dean has been planning this project since 2017. His work has included scouting locations, engaging with community members, and documenting his collaborations. He visited Houlton in 2022, in part because of his family connection to the area—he’s the British descendant of the founders of Houlton and vacationed as a kid with his family at Meduxnekeag (Drews) Lake. Based on his trip and subsequent conversations, he decided to create a twinned installation linking Presque Isle and Houlton.

In August 2023, he and his former student Justin Kuhn traveled to the area to complete installation of the three outdoor sculptures. They built and anchored “sculptural rigs”—they look like very tall wooden tripods—and then mounted wood panels and locally harvested wood to them in “radial starbursts”. The design allows light to pass through the centers of these works, casting unique patterns on the ground depending on the time of day and season.

The sculptures’ reflective faces, Dean explained, are awaiting the coming of the moon’s shadow on April 8. Before and after the eclipse, their presence will stand as “cosmic markers, proclaiming the cycle of the seasons, honoring place, witnessing the rising and setting of the Sun, and the circling of the Moon.” All are welcome to visit these art installations and make them a part of their celebration of the upcoming solar eclipse.

Dean has a BFA from the University of St. Andrews and an MFA in painting from the Savannah College of Art and Design. He’s completed artist residencies in Colorado and Georgia and participated in exhibitions in Georgia, South Carolina, and Colorado. Dean is the co-recipient, with Bret Harte Elementary School, of the New Jersey New Arts in Education Award.

The University’s Libra Distinguished Lecture Series was established in 1999. Each year, the LDLS Committee sponsors four to six speakers who come from Maine and beyond, representing a range of disciplines and viewpoints. While the emphasis tends to be on featuring visiting academics, it is not exclusively so. The speakers typically spend two days at the University meeting with classes and presenting a community lecture.

UMPI welcomes the campus and community to hear Dean speak on March 6. For more information about Now and then, check out @nowandtheneclipse24 on social media. For more information about this event, contact Angelita Hernandez at 207-768- 9593 or email angelita.hernandez@maine.edu.