Maine-based Artist Pigeon to Work with BHS Students on Equality

posted Feb 15, 2017, 12:55 PM by Karen Chasse

"No More Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Bringing to Light Issues of Inclusion at BHS”

Biddeford High School’s (BHS) Civil Rights Team is tackling the issue of inequality head-on thanks to a visit by Maine-based artist and activist Pigeon, also known as Orson Horchler, on February 28. Pigeon will work with the Team to conceptualize and create a custom art installation that addresses the theme of belonging before co-presenting their work at a school-wide assembly.  Students will create a piece that focuses on themselves as Mainers titled, “No More Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Bringing to Light Issues of Inclusion at BHS.”

“We pride ourselves on our school spirit; yet, we know some students are still not fully accepted in our community,” stated BHS Civil Right Team Leader Veronica Foster. “Often this exclusion happens quietly: muttered comments in the hallway, students who are not elected to Student Council despite being qualified, hurtful generalizations about ‘those kids.’ As a result, our happy sea of black and orange can hide the more isolated experiences of students who do not fit the norm.”

While Maine is the most homogeneous state in the union, the Biddeford School Department benefits from remarkable diversity.  More than half (53%) of York County’s English Language Learners attend Biddeford schools consisting of 160 students from nearly twenty countries.  The BHS Civil Rights Team will make a piece of art that explicitly acknowledges the valuable contribution that ALL students bring to our school community, especially students who may not feel like they fully belong. They want students to be able to walk past the art installation and see themselves reflected back.

“I applaud our students for taking the initiative to bring this Maine-based artist to BHS,” stated Superintendent Jeremy Ray.  “This is an unsettling time for many of our students and it is important they know they belong here.  They enrich our curriculum and enhance the quality and diversity of our schools.”

Pigeon’s artwork depicts singular images of individuals with “Mainer” noted below. His goal is to create a lively dialogue around the perception of ‘Mainer’ and bring forth the issues of race, class and belonging to those who call Maine home. Pigeon has been invited to hang his portraits on vacant storefronts in Portland, at the Maine Historical Society, University of Maine at Farmington and more.

Sample of Pigeon’s artwork.