Hometown: Brookline, Massachusetts
Major: Art History, with a minor in Music
Why did you choose to come to Bowdoin?
The answer is two-fold. The first aspect had to do with the fact that I knew I wanted a small school. My experience at my high school which had only 320 students was a particularly positive one. I knew that I learned best in a small setting and that I wanted to be part of a community. With regards to the liberal arts education, I didn't have a specialized interest in mind at the time and knew that I wanted to embrace all aspects of learning. I wanted to try a bunch of things out which a high school education doesn't enable you to do and engage myself with other intellectual people.
Why did you choose you major?
I grew up going to museums with my parents and was always fascinated with art. For me, art was an interesting lens through which I could view history. Artists have always used their work as a social commentary and reaction. Likewise, their work in many cases was the seed of revolution. Thus, to me, it couples history effectively. I suppose the more facetious answer would be that when I realized you could get credit for looking at pictures, I thought that would do just fine for me.
What has been your favorite course at Bowdoin?
One that comes to mind was a music class I took during my freshman year on the history of opera. We studied a series of different operas across a variety of different musical and historic periods. What I particularly enjoyed about it was that on two occasions we went to see performances at Merrill Auditorium in Portland. While the performances themselves were by no means stellar, it was at this point that I realized that Portland both embraces and offers a great deal of culture. The energy of the performance was matched by the enthusiasm of the crowd.
Have you engaged in any independent research while at Bowdoin?
I did an independent study during my junior fall with Professor Barbara Boyd [of the Classics department] on Cicero. She was kind enough to take on a few students even though we had scheduling conflicts with other courses. We met twice a week in a fairly informal setting and translated some Cicero.
Currently, I am doing a study with [Associate] Professor Jim McCalla [of the Music department] on the history of jazz guitar. The independent study is actually the result of a challenge that I issued to Jim. I have taken both of his Jazz Survey courses and have always loved jazz. I play guitar and have always wanted to learn more about the evolution of the instrument from its confined position as a rhythm instrument to its full appreciation as a soloist instrument. When I first went to Jim he was less than thrilled because he is skeptical about the guitar's role in the jazz landscape. He finally agreed to take me on under the promise that I would make him a believer at the end. Needless to say, I have my work cut out for me.
What extracurricular or work experiences have you had at Bowdoin?
The majority of my extracurricular activities at Bowdoin have been outside of the campus and in Portland. In high school I realized that I had a real fascination with cheese. I started to work at a cheese shop and immersed myself in the gourmet world. Through some contacts I started working for a boutique food importer in Portland during my sophomore year. The Rogers Collection imports Spanish and Italian cheeses, olive oils, and specialty meats. For the last few years I have handled roughly 25 national accounts for them, many of which exist in the northeast. From my work there I became acquainted with a local restaurant owner who had two operations in the Old Port of Portland. Last year, she brought me on the consult with her chefs on cheese and to write their cheese menu.
This year, I have put my cheese endeavors on the backburner in order to free up some time for my most recent project. After an internship at the Portland Museum of Art this summer they asked me to be the assistant curator of a two-floor retrospective that will begin next September on [Bowdoin Art Lecturer] John Bisbee. The show is slated to be on for two months and will look at works throughout John's career. For now, I have been put in charge of writing the majority of the publication and arranging the show.
Did you study abroad during your time at Bowdoin?
I spent last spring in London at Sotheby's Institute of Art. It ended up working out well but came together at the last moment. I was planning to go to University College of London but found out in November that I didn't get accepted. I scrambled to put something together and found out on December 27th that I got into Sotheby's. The program was unique in that I took one class that met for about 15 hours a week. The students ranged in age from 21 to mid-fifties. I was the only college student. The coolest part about it was that it enabled me to have a very authentic experience living in London. I lived in my own flat and got a chance to better immerse myself in the culture and its people.
What is your best Bowdoin memory?
My freshman year it just so happened that Ivies [Weekend] coincided with my birthday. Although the weather was awful, my favorite band, Assembly of Dust, was playing at [the annual benefit concert] Bear Aids. This is a band that I have seen perform over 60 times in one form or another, so I was pretty excited that they were coming. My friend, Paul Hastings (2004), arranged it so after the show he and I would get to interview the band's leader Reid Genauer. I knew Reid fairly well after going to shows for four years and because I took guitar lessons from the band's lead guitarist. When I went up to him after the show I said that we should go the Paul's room in [Coles] Tower because it would be less noisy. It took some reassuring but as we got out of the elevator I had him convinced that the interview would go much more smoothly and quickly in Paul's room. Paul neglected to tell me that a group of our friends were already enjoying Ivies in his room. [So it turned out that] the interview was performed by about ten guys, with no pencil or paper, and no tape recorder.
What are your plans for after graduation?
At the beginning of the summer my plan was to start a business with my boss at the Rogers Collection, which dealt with the consolidation and distribution of domestic artisan cheeses. I was at the point where I had business plans and financial backing in place. However, that plan changed as most plans do.
Now, I hope to continue with the museum work that I did last summer. I plan to take a year and hopefully work in New York or D.C. at a museum. Then I would like to continue my education in a Ph.D. program for art history, although that plan may also change at some point.
What advice would you give to a prospective student or first-year about the Bowdoin experience?
For me, what has made Bowdoin enjoyable is the pursuit of my different passions. The process of learning about something, whether it is biology, art, or history will inevitably bring you into contact with both like and unlike minded individuals. What is great is that you will find common ground in your shared love. You will find professors who inspire you and who will become your friends. For me, it is through this process that I have found comfort in my decision to come to Bowdoin.