Learning about art in a hands-on way enriches life, and we have been able to touch many lives through Seamark Community Arts.
Holley grew up with her four brothers in a small farming community in Connecticut. After high school, she went west and attended the University of Denver. She and husband Bruce moved to Deer Isle, a small island in Penobscot Bay in Maine in 1977 where they have lived ever since. Holley has two sons, Larkin and Aaron, who are both lobsterman and artists, and one eight-year old grandson named Zane who is quickly learning the ways of the craftsman himself. Bruce, whom Holley describes as her "partner in creativity and adventure for the past 35 years," is a woodworker and artist like Holley, and he will join her on the cruise.
Holley's guiding star is art, and for the past 35 years, she has brought her artistic talent and enthusiasm to daily life in Deer Isle. In 1977, Holley and Bruce started a design business where they built large holiday displays for malls primarily in New York. Wanting to promote and keep the artistic spirit alive in Deer Isle, the couple decided to purchase an old high school in Deer Isle in the late 70's and converted it for use in their business. A few years later, Holley got the inspiration that they could help keep the tradition of New England crafts alive in Maine by using their building as an art school – fittingly named Seamark Community Arts.
Continuously since 1982, Holley and other local artists have been teaching kids about traditional and contemporary crafts. This includes everything from quilting, to net making, to textile design, to painting and woodworking. "This part of the country is steeped in high quality craftsmanship," says Holley, "and it's a great joy to help keep these crafts alive." Throughout the years, Holley has invited nationally recognized artists from New York, Boston, and elsewhere to visit their school and give hands-on training to the kids. Each year, they hold a summer camp for about 100 kids, and every year for the past twenty years, the school has provided art appreciation for K-5 students in the community. Says Holley: "It always excites me to see the kids begin to understand what they are looking at and appreciate what goes into making a fine piece of art. I think this experience enriches their lives, and I know it enriches mine." Having directed and been involved in Seamark Community Arts for the past 25 years, Holley now hopes to have the school serve as a model for other communities across the country.