“We need artists to help explain what is happening in this country, to tell the truth and reveal the lies, to be willing to say the emperor has no clothes, to create moral indignation, to envision alternatives, to reinvent language. We need artists to help us come together and share our voices and build community around powerful issues concerning our roles in the world and our planet’s survival. Compassion must be translated into action.”
Natasha Mayers’s work marries art and community. She studied sculpture but expected to teach high school social studies when she graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 1967. After serving in the Peace Corps in Nigeria, she took a teaching job in Maine and began to study painting. A small sampling of her dozens of projects from the last 50-plus-years shows why she has been called the state’s most committed activist-artist:
Mayers has been a Touring Artist with the Maine Arts Commission Artist-in-Residency Program since 1975. She has supervised the painting of over 600 school and community murals from Maine to Nicaragua, encouraging creativity in students from nursery school to college and in diverse populations, including immigrants, refugees, prisoners, the homeless, and the “psychiatrically labeled.”
Mayers’s many honors and awards include:
Natasha founded ARRT! (the Artists’ Rapid Response Team) in 2012, an artists’ collective that has created over 400 banners, props and yard signs for progressive Maine organizations. She also co-founded and is editor-in-chief of The Maine Arts Journal: Union of Maine Visual Artists Quarterly.
Mayers was featured in a 2021 documentary, Natasha Mayers: An Un-Still Life, by Geoffrey Leighton and Anita Clearfield. The film presents “an artist who has remained true to her passion for over 50 years, . . . [taking] on social, economic and environmental justice issues with humor, irreverence and a keen aesthetic that enlightens while it entertains.” The film continues to be offered to schools and communities as “a tool to influence and energize . . . communit[ies] around issues that are important to them.”
When she is not out in the community, Mayers spends time in her home studio creating art that has been shown in numerous galleries, the Maine Jewish Museum and the Portland Museum of Art. In her own painting, Mayers often explores themes of peace and social justice. By placing images of war on Maine’s landscape in her “State of War” series, she effectively asks, How would we feel if it happened here?
“An empathetic response,” says Mayers, “requires imagination.”
Americans Who Tell the Truth (AWTT) offers a variety of ways to engage with its portraits and portrait subjects. Host an exhibit, use our free lesson plans and educational programs, or engage with a member of the AWTT team or portrait subjects.
AWTT has educational materials and lesson plans that ask students to grapple with truth, justice, and freedom.
AWTT encourages community engagement programs and exhibits accompanied by public events that stimulate dialogue around citizenship, education, and activism.