Portraits & Voices: Brickyard Roads
August 1, 2009 through August 31, 2010
This exhibit tells the story of the local brickmaking industry with first-person oral histories, documentary photographs, films showing the process – past and present, specially-commissioned artwork celebrating the art of brickmaking and more.
The story of brickmaking in Lewiston-Auburn will be told in a variety of ways; with video and still images showing the labor-intensive manual process of the past and the current, state-of-the-art mechanized process at Morin Brick Company. Oral histories conducted by professional oral historian Andrea L'Hommedieu and portraits by documentary photographer Mark Silber capture the stories of individual brickmakers. A video captures several members of the Dennis family gathering for a group interview to share their experiences. Family histories of the Dennis and Morin families are incorporated into the exhibit.
Photographs donated by Morin Brick Company, the Morin family, the Dennis family of Dennis Brick Company, and Ralph Metayer of Rumford and others illustrate the brick-making process of old. A timeline and map of the brickyards of the Twin Cities will give visitors a feel for the brick industry's impact on the community – both yesterday and today.
Visitors get a feel for the impact and the longevity of local brickyards – small and large – identified on a map and a timeline dating from the 1850's to today. Videos show the process – then and now – and the Dennis family's videotaped interview tells a great story.
Works of art were specially commissioned for this exhibit. Artist Ray A. Michaud of Lewiston painted Laying Brick in the Yard. Michaud's medium is silica sand, iron oxide, and oil on canvas. In his Artist's Statement, Michaud notes, "While learning about the water-struck brickmaking process, it became clear to me that it really was a back-breaking job. Former brickworkers state with pride that the job ‘toughened them up.' I have tried to capture that aspect of the brickmaking industry."
"OF BRICK" brick carpet by artist Christina Bechstein
Growing over the course of a year, "OF BRICK" is an art project created by Christina Bechstein in collaboration with artist-typographer Megan O'Connell. A sculptural art installation that utilizes three different kinds of brick from Morin Brick, the project includes several brick "bundle" tables where visitors can creatively participate in several hand-made books, as well as a growing brick "carpet." The brick carpet will grow over the course of the exhibit, and visitors can sign up for a series of limited workshops to carve into pre-fired bricks that then will become permanent works of art. All bricks will be part of Museum L-A's future home.
This exhibit was made possible in part through grants from the USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant program, the Maine Community Foundation's Androscoggin County Fund, and the Maine Arts Commission, an independent state agency supported by the National Endowment for the Arts. Morin Brick of Auburn, a division of R.J. Finlay & Co., is a major supporter of the exhibit and co-hosted the July 31 Brickworkers Reunion.