Hampden Academy art project sparks togetherness

Published: Jun. 16, 2020 at 10:02 AM EDT
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First the pandemic, then the protests.

Two University of Maine graduate art students found a way to spark community conversations about these life changing events.

Joy Hollowell tells us about the Fire Bread Project.


"Probably about 10 years ago, my kids and I made bread over a fire at the Common Ground Fair. And I kind of thought about this kind of process that brings us together."

As an Intermedia Master of Fine Arts candidate at the University of Maine, Rochelle Lawrence wanted to connect with her classmates.

"So just on a whim, I created a block cut of fire bread," she says, holding up a cloth bag with her logo on the front of it.

Lawrence filled the cloth bags with all the dry ingredients needed to bake bread.

"And I just sent it to my classmates."

Including Adele Drake, the arts instructor at Hampden Academy.

"It was so engaging for my children and for myself at this time when everybody is just in front of their screens," says Drake.

"And then Adele said- would you consider doing this for the students at Hampden Academy?" adds Lawrence. "And I was like- I'd love to, that would be awesome. And she's like, can you make 100 bags?"

She did- despite a shortage of flour and yeast at the grocery stores. Hampden academy picked up the tab then hand delivered them to students.

"It was a remarkable process actually," says Lawrence, "just putting them together. And really with every bag, I was just consciously sending a little goodness and a little love to each one of these people."

"I honestly don't think it would have happened if we weren't doing a remote learning model," says Drake. "So many thing were learned during this time and one of them is that in the future, I will hope to always have some aspect of this."

Students were instructed to invite family to participate. Because it wasn't really about making bread but more about creating conversation. Drake was curious if high schoolers would be receptive to this.

"It turned out they were," she says. "Kids who hadn't really engaged at all in my class, they sent me the pictures from the Fire Bread Project."

Alayna Thomas made the bread with her mom and older brother.

"I never imagined cooking bread on an actual fire and so I didn't think it would actually work," says Thomas. "And then it did."

In addition to photos, the student also submitted their reflections from the fire bread project.

"The issues that they discussed ranged from things like their daily schedules, the remote learning process to issues of climate change," says Drake. "But the number one issue that they felt is most important to this is Black Lives Matter. You can see that they're processing exactly what's happening right now in the world, so for me that was very successful."


D rake does have some bags left over. She welcomes anyone interested in participating in the fire bread project to email her at adrake@rsu22.us


Collect 4 sticks that are long enough to comfortably hold over coals. Whittle one end of the stick, about 6 to 8 inches, where you will wrap the dough.


1. Pour the contents of the Fire Bread bag into a large bowl. Add 1/2 cup of warm water and a teaspoon of olive oil (or any cooking oil). Stir and when contents come together knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 2 to 3 minutes. If the dough is sticky, add a little more flour.

2. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size - about an hour.

3. With floured hands, gently "knock back" the dough by making it into a ball.

4. Tip the dough out onto a floured surface and divide into 4 pieces.

Shaping the Dough

1. Start by stretching the dough into a strip and then roll it into a long sausage shape.

2. Twist a strip around the end of your stick in a spiral. Pinch the dough together to secure the end.

Cooking over a campfire

1. Either hold or prop your stick over the fire.

2. Choose a spot over hot embers for best results

3. Keep rotating until all the sides are browned.

4. Enjoy your bread!

Cooking in the oven

1. Preheat oven to 350

2. Place in a greased pan

3. Cook 30 minutes or until it looks done

4. Enjoy your bread with family conversations!

Your packet includes a mixture of:

1 ½ cup all purpose flour

1 ½ teaspoons vital wheat gluten

½ teaspoon yeast

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon sugar