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Local artist to discuss historical tableau at Franco-American Collection

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Mercedes Gastonguay’s large oil painting “A la mémoire de nos ancêtres” (“In memory of our ancestors”) is an original work honoring the Canadians who immigrated to the Lewiston-Auburn area.

The Franco-American Collection at USM’s Lewiston-Auburn College will provide an opportunity to enjoy tea and a discussion with local artist Mercedes Gastonguay on Friday, March 17, from 1 to 2 p.m. The focus of the discussion will be Gastonguay’s large oil tableau “A la mémoire de nos ancêtres” (“In memory of our ancestors”), an original new work honoring the Canadians who immigrated to the Lewiston-Auburn area.

Along with some history about the arrival of the Franco-Americans to Lewiston-Auburn, Gastonguay will describe the year and a half-long process she undertook to create the work, including research, planning, drawing, and painting. Some of her rough sketches will be on display, and prints of the painting will be available for purchase.

The public is invited to visit the Collection prior to the program at 1:00, and to stay after the program to participate in the monthly French-Language Sing-Along session featuring Les Troubadours. Both events are free and open to the public.

This is one of many events happening throughout the week to mark “La Semaine de la Francophonie,” a week-long celebration of the French language and those around the world who speak it. The next event at the Collection will be on Monday, March 20, when the public is invited to stop in during the day to view “French Connections: Franconnexions,” a conference taking place at the University of Vermont highlighting the historical, cultural, and economic contributions of French Canadians from Québec to New England.

As one of the largest repositories in the Northeast for the culture of French Canadian immigrants to the United States, the Franco-American Collection preserves the past and promotes the study of Franco-American culture and history.

Lewiston-Auburn College is located at 51 Westminster Street in Lewiston. For more information about the collection, call 753-6545, email janet.roberts@maine.edu, or see http://usm.maine.edu/franco.

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