PROSPECT HARBOR — Arrayed in a circle in a field in a quiet peninsular town, surrounded by woods, farmhouses and small businesses, seven sculptors from around the world are making a heck of a racket.

The whining, grinding noise of circular-bladed saws against granite blocks fills the air, punctuated by the pounding of mallets on chisels. Protected by safety glasses, earplugs, respirators, thick gloves, and aprons, the sculptors stand or sit, bent over massive stones weighing up to 12 tons, amid clouds of granite dust and hails of chips.

Even for those aware of the Schoodic International Sculpture Symposium’s existence since its inception in 2007, it’s an astonishing sight.

The longest reoccurring public outdoor sculpture symposium in the nation, this is the fifth, and possibly last, in a series that, this year, will bring the number of public-art sculptures to 34, all displayed in Maine communities.

This year, sculptors hailed from Maine, Vermont, Washington, Switzerland, South Korea and The Republic of Georgia.

The symposium was the brainchild of Jesse Salisbury, a Steuben native and well-regarded sculptor of large-scale granite works. His works are on display throughout Maine, and in Japan and New Zealand. In recent years, he was commissioned to install several large pieces at the Portland International Jetport. After the conclusion of this year’s symposium, he was on his way to China to install an exhibition there.

What attracts sculptors to granite? It’s an innate feeling for an accessible material, he said.

“The bedrock is so close, and so sculpted by nature,” he said. “And it’s hard, kind of impenetrable. It lasts really well. So your statement is going to be around a long time.”

The first symposium of this type was held in Austria in 1959, according to Salisbury. Since then, sculptors have gathered at various places around the world. At each, the public is invited to visit, and finished works become a permanent part of a community’s landscape.

Salisbury spends considerable time on planning and implementing the six-week event. This includes raising funds and in-kind donations toward the $250,000 total cost, hosting the artists, and sourcing 70 tons of stone from local quarries.

Throughout the year, Salisbury also meets with communities interested in receiving the sculptures. Sometimes, that means introducing towns to the abstract nature of the artworks.

“Often, there’s a natural feeling that this work needs to somehow sum up 200 years of small-town Maine history—the blueberry-raking and the lobster fishing,” Salisbury said. “So we talk through the artistic process, and about the fact that we’re building a collection. We have a great history of quarrying, but the granite always went somewhere else. With this, we’re inviting artists to be here and be creative with this material. We invite them because what they do is unique with this medium.”

In the meantime, both the symposium and the growing sculpture trail have become part of the Maine experience. The idea of a sculpture trail has gained the interest of Canadian neighbors; recently, Salisbury met with a group of sculptors from New Brunswick who said they want to continue the trail across the border.

“We get about 8,000 visitors to the symposium itself,” he said. “People from away tell us they tour the installed pieces, and people from here take their guests on the sculpture trail during their visits.””

The future of the symposium is unclear. Having spent a big chunk of his life on it, Salisbury said he’s ready to focus more on his own artwork.

“Five symposia in 10 years. It’s been very rewarding,” he said.