Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)




Susan Smith

Second Committee Member

Owen Smith

Third Committee Member

Susan Bickford


My intermedia practice has evolved over time. When I started the program in the fall of 2011, I was eager “to explore storytelling through multimedia to create meaningful experiences that both entertain and educate audiences.” This goal has remained pervasive throughout my five years in the program, but has grown richer by exploring two additional components: community engagement and entrepreneurship.

I have always enjoyed involving the community in my work, particularly when my work can serve as a catalyst for forming connections among unrelated entities. You can see examples of these practice in my Intermedia MFA portfolio (in the next section), although two projects stand out in particular. The first is my Community Connector mobile phone app, which connected a new media class project among a local mobile app development company, staff from the City of Bangor, and Bangor-area bus riders. The second was the community engagement initiative called “Spark Bangor,” which brought together a wide array of participants including community members, city officials, local businesses, community art walks, volunteers, city government committees, a UMaine Sociology intern, and others. Connecting and integrating my work into “real life” is important to me.

Entrepreneurship has played a big role in my practice too. As I have pursued my Intermedia MFA, I have also earned an Innovation Engineering Graduate Certificate at the University of Maine. Innovation Engineering classes taught me strategies for creating new ideas, communicating those ideas, and making the ideas real. The three pillars of this program—Create, Communicate, and Commercialize—have served me well as I’ve planned and pursued much of my MFA work. The graduate certificate, along with my concurrent experience working as a staff person at the University of Maine Foster Center for Student Innovation, taught me how to test the the validity of ideas, iterate through cycles of learning to make ideas better, pitch ideas in front of audiences, and leverage websites and social media to promote my work.

Writing is my true passion. When I entered graduate school, I wanted to learn to learn how to write more creatively, and I have found many opportunities to do that. I have taken four writing classes (plus a spring break writing workshop), which have given me ample opportunities to take risks, make mistakes, get iterative loops of feedback, and emerge feeling very strong about my ability to craft meaningful essays. The evolution in my writing skills has given me the confidence to put my writing out into the world. Other components of the Intermedia program have taught me ways to make the writing richer, bigger, broader, and have more impact by complementing the writing itself (mere words) with other forms of art such as visual narratives, performance, objects, and community interaction.

My Intermedia Masters of Fine Art (IMFA) thesis project combines art, life, and community using the three cornerstones of my Intermedia practice: community engagement, entrepreneurship, and writing.

The final outcomes of my thesis project include:

A series of personal essays that reflect a memoir-writing practice

A series of visual narratives, artifacts, and objects that comprised an art exhibit at the 2016 Without Borders show at the University of Maine, Lord Hall Gallery, from May 20 to July 2, 2016.

“Takeaways” for exhibit attendees:

  • A booklet of personal essays titled “Things Work Out For Me,” which became the foundation for my memoir-writing practice. I designed, edited, and self-published a limited edition run of 50 copies, which I made available for free in the gallery.
  • A temporary tattoo that said, “Things Work Out For Me,” also made available for free in the gallery

This paper focuses on my evolving memoir writing practice, which has evolved through the process of writing a series of personal essays. While I shared just a few essays in my final thesis booklet, my memoir writing practice continues as I aspire to publish a finished memoir. This paper shares what I have learned through my research and experience.

Included in

Fine Arts Commons