“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 40-plus-years shows why she has been called the state’s most committed activist-artist:
Since 1975, Mayers has supervised the painting of over 500 murals as a touring artist with the Maine Commission for the Arts. She is an artist-in-residence for Peace Action Maine and was a National Endowment for the Arts Millennium Artist in Portsmouth, Ohio.
In 2005, Mayers received the Arthur Hall Award “for an artist whose work, community service and commitment to their craft inspires others around them to reach to their highest potential.” She has encouraged creativity in students from nursery school to college and in diverse populations, including immigrants, refugees, prisoners, the homeless, and the “psychiatrically labeled”.
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.