About 15 years ago, a group of seminary professors and I took the mail boat out to Little Cranberry, one of the many small islands that dot Maine’s rocky coastline. We docked at tiny Islesford and walked through the woods to a cottage nestled among the pine trees in the quaint harbor town.
We were visiting the home and studio of Ashley Bryan,(link is external) a now-97-year-old African American storyteller, artist and illustrator. After an award-winning career studying, teaching and creating art around the world, Bryan moved to the island to continue his craft in retirement.
His living and working space, which now includes an adjacent showcase pavilion as part of the Ashley Bryan Center, is a rich testament to his work. Every surface, nook and cranny is crammed with his collections, collages, paintings, sculpted figures, sea glass, driftwood and shells. He sees beauty in whatever he finds washed up on the ocean shore.