BIDDEFORD — An exhibit of young artists is now showing the nonprofit arts organization Engine in downtown Biddeford. What makes this particular show unique is that all the artists have some form of disability, ranging from Tourette Syndrome to oculocutaneous albinism, a genetic condition.

Electrify! is a nationally-touring show of 15 emerging young artists, ages 21 to 25, with disabilities, from around the U.S. It is presented by the VSA, the Kennedy Center’s international organization on arts and disability based in Washington, D.C. The year-long national tour kicked off in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 25, and is presented through support from Volkswagen Group of America.

Electrify! opened at Engine on Friday and will be on display through June 23. Maine artist Haley Macherone, who earned a bachelor’s of fine art from Maine College of Art in Portland, Class of 2017, gave a short presentation about her work during the opening. Macherone, of Portland, earned second prize and $6,000 in the competition.

Macherone’s entry is Hold for Inspection, a mixed media sculpture. Her work is informed by her investigations into her identity as an artist with Tourette Syndrome. Her sculptures blend memories with fiction, delving into her childhood with a mix of humor, uncertainty, and wonder.

Trinity Kai, age 25, of Little Rock, Arkansas, and born with oculocutaneous albinism won the $20,000 Grand Prize.

Summer Mason, age 22, born and raised Los Angeles, California, and who has bipolar disorder, won the $10,000 First Prize.

Other winning artists receiving an Award of Excellence in the amount of $2,000.

The 2017 VSA Emerging Young Artists Competition, the 16th year of the program, is a Jean Kennedy Smith Arts and Disability Program of the Kennedy Center. The competition drew submissions from young artists with disabilities from around the U.S.

The theme, according to a press release from Engine, “was to excite our senses, awaken our curiosity and electrify our very being.” winners, selected from a pool of hundreds of applicants, were chosen for their artistic quality, proficiency and enlightening or compelling interpretations of the theme.

“These young artists challenge us to see the world from a different point of view, and through their personal lens. Their work will spark debate and conversation, and ultimately ignite understanding,” said Betty Siegel, director of VSA and Accessibility of the Kennedy Center. “We look forward to seeing the impact these 15 young artists and their work will have on invoking unity and inclusivity across the nation.”

The winners received a total of $60,000 in cash awards as well as national recognition via the exhibition, which travels to museums and galleries as part of a one year national tour.

Volkswagen Group of America has supported the program through funds and board support since 2002.

“We are thrilled to once again support VSA’s Emerging Young Artist Competition, the program not only empowers young artists but it inspires our entire company,” David Geanacopoulos, senior executive vice president for Public Affairs and Policy of Volkswagen Group of America. “The program combines art and culture while advocating for diversity and inclusion, all values that Volkswagen Group of America promotes throughout the organization.”

Engine is located at 128 Main St., Biddeford. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Friday 1 to 6 p.m. and Saturdays 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.