Merrilee Schoen


Merrilee Schoen is an interdisciplinary artist, poet and rust collector, working and living in Penobscot and Piscataquis County Maine, original and unceded territory of the Wabanaki (Dawnland Confederacy). Her work draws from a variety of methods and mediums ranging from sculpture, jewelry, and installation, to socially engaged art practices. Merrilee is the founder of a traveling community resource center, The Joy Truck Project, and is currently pursuing her MFA in Intermedia at the University of Maine at Orono. 

Artist Statement

Merrilee is deeply committed to constructing intermedial work that is directly connected to actions and theories of social change. Materials such as broken glass, rust, bullet casings, fabric scraps and other discards are emblematic of larger social systems. The specific origins of these found objects- often from abandoned sites and vacant lots- provide a critical context to the social issue being examined. When assembled in sculpture and installations, these materials provide opportunities for consideration about the dysfunctional social systems of power.

Merrilee uses art-making and writing to co-construct community projects, reflected through decades long work in human rights advocacy and current frontline work in rural mutual aid projects. Merrilee Schoen uses art-making as a tool in service of social repair, dismantling pathological social structures of control and power and imagining new ways of being in community. 

Previous Works

an old chair sits in the center of frame with a broom to its left and frames hung on the wall behind it, an old suitcase is propped up to the right of the chair like a side table, a bird cage hangs above with a light bulb like a chandelier

Stay Awhile


A scene, set with found objects from the local transfer station and artists home collection compiled with transience, lasting impermanence and metaphors in mind of human unresolve while trying to make a home by any means necessary. Constructed in response to continued tensions between the city of Bangor, homeless advocacy groups and residents of a local encampment.

a temporary installation made out of found scrap metal which appears to curl inwards like a spiral, installed in a corner of the room against a white wall

Heavy Living Giving Way to A Sigh

2022 . 

In direct relation to the concept of the life-death cycle and the tensions accumulated through exposure, inequities, and precarious-ness, Heavy Living Giving Way to A Sigh was constructed by relying on tension and weight distribution of broken glass and rusted materials threading to nails along the wall.

a collection of found objects assembled together to make a sculpture sit onto a table next to a photo album with some photos hung on the wall behind the table

Weight of Place


This sculpture assembles found objects with a companion photo travelogue documenting sites in California, Nevada, Wyoming, Arizona, Utah, and West Virginia. With particular focus on abandoned homes, homelessness and encountered detritus, Weight of Place examines public disregard to all that is left broken without opportunity for repair- in material objects, places and people.