Japanese hanging scrolls from UMF Associate Professor of Art History and Art Director Sarah Maline’s private collection are seen Tuesday, May 16, for fifth and sixth graders who were planning to visit the campus in Farmington. Brian Ponce/Franklin Journal

FARMINGTON — On Tuesday, May 16, in the Art Gallery on the University of Maine in Farmington campus, Associate Professor of Art History Sarah Maline carefully hung her collection of Japanese hanging scrolls for an exhibition for fifth and sixth graders.

Despite the age of some of these scrolls, she said most of the initial scrolls in her collection were acquired in Japan at a local flea market for low cost.

“It was a time when the [Japanese] economy was so good,” Maline said. “People were building modern houses and getting rid of their traditional Japanese houses.”

According to Maline, these scrolls, along with Kimonos and other traditional items, wound up in flea markets to make way for modern housing with modern art, which worked out great for Maline and her collection.

“eBay has been kind to me since then, except now I think the scroll prices have gone up,” she said. “They’re now fashionable, again, so I don’t think I could afford to buy many.”

The Pop-Up Show of Japanese Hanging Scrolls took place from Tuesday, May 16, through Thursday, May 18. It was open to the public but was set up primarily for fifth and sixth graders led by Susan Boyce-Cormier, a teacher from the discovery program of the Western Maine Educational Collaborative.


Maline, who is also the Art Director at UMF, spent a few years in Japan for her master’s degree, and has returned several times to the country. She will be returning this year, with 12 first year students as part of First Year Fusion, which combines the First Year Seminar with a week-long pre-orientation experiential learning program for incoming students.

The trip is set to depart on Sunday, July 30, with the students returning on Thursday, Aug. 10. While on the trip, students will be encouraged to keep a tabi nikki, or travel diary, which will play a part in the final project.

The trip is a part of a course wherein students will use their travel diary to build a final project that even Maline isn’t sure what to expect.

“We’re going to be reading a lot of travel journals, Japanese travel journals,” Maline said, “and they’ll be making their own journals through writing, video, sound recording, and stuff like that.”

“I don’t know what form it’ll take,” she added.

The students and school will be working closely with Akita University through a project-based Virtual Global Exchange (VGE). The trip begins in Tokyo to immerse the students in Japanese culture, history, and food. Other travel destinations will include Honshu Island to explore Akita and the ancient Japanese capital of Kyoto.


Launched in 2019, the goal of the First Year Fusion program, in conjunction with the Research Learning Experiences program at UMF, is to prepare students for academic success and future careers.

“If students have a great first year experience, they just do better,” Maline stated. “They thrive more in college.”

Maline also feels that the experience is especially important to students who are from Maine.

“A lot of students really spend a lot of time in small towns, and that jolt of being in a totally new place is awesome,” she said.

Next year, Maline hopes to have an alumni trip to Japan, which she feels would be good for teachers to recharge their batteries.

“For people who are teaching, it’s a way for them to sort of refresh some of their interests,” Maline said.

Comments are not available on this story.