Micah McKay '09

Micah McKay '09

Hometown: Buffalo, New York
Major: Art History

Why did you choose to come to Bowdoin?
All my family is originally from Maine and I have a handful of relatives that have attended Bowdoin, so I've been pretty familiar with the college from a young age. I knew it was a friendly, tight-knit community and that was definitely something I wanted to be apart of. In the sixth grade I went to Bowdoin hockey camp, believing it was the necessary first step towards making the team at Bowdoin. That didn't really work out, but I have no regrets. Bowdoin has been a great fit.

Why did you choose your major?
When I entered Bowdoin I really didn't have a clue what I wanted to major in. I was leaning towards history until I took Professor Linda Docherty's first-year art history seminar, Making Faces: The Art of Portraiture. The class was very inspiring and, believe it or not, I found that I really enjoyed giving presentations in front of works of art. I've always enjoyed history, but looking at images in art history provides a fresh and unique way of looking at the past. After a couple more classes in the department I was hooked.

What has been a course you especially enjoyed at Bowdoin? ?
My first-year seminar with Professor Docherty definitely stands out. Not only did the course spark my interest in art history, it also helped to further my writing and presentation skills. We studied the role of portraiture throughout history and I remember really enjoying the nature of the assignments and the class discussions. For our final project we wrote and gave presentations on prints and photographs from Bowdoin's collections. It was a great experience and Professor Docherty's passion for the subject made the course all the more enjoyable.

What professor or professors have especially inspired you during your time at Bowdoin?
Well, I'm a pretty big fan of Linda Docherty, in case you haven't picked up on that yet. She is energetic in the classroom, extremely knowledgeable, and eager to help her students succeed both in and outside of class. I remember going on a field trip to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston my freshman year and just being blown away by how much Professor Docherty could talk about almost every painting we passed in the museum. Her knowledge and passion for art seems endless. She's also been very helpful to me outside of the classroom. Whenever I've been stressed over courses or assignments she has helped me take a step back and put my college career into perspective. Professor Stephen Perkinson and Professor Doris Santoro also come to mind when I think of influential professors. The courses I have taken with Professor Perkinson have fueled my interest in art history and Professor Santoro's education classes were very inspiring.

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Micah and the Ultimate Frisbee team.

What extracurricular or work experiences have you had at Bowdoin? The Ultimate Frisbee team, The Stoned Clown, has been a big part of life at Bowdoin. I have played on the team the past four years and have had a great time competing against college and club teams around New England. I've also been pretty involved with the music scene at Bowdoin. I help do the sound and set up bands and DJs on Thursday nights in Jack Magee's Pub. In addition, I've been very involved with WBOR 91.1 FM, Bowdoin's commercial-free radio station. Although my DJ skills are questionable, I've always enjoyed independent music and I'm glad I have had the opportunity to explore that interest through WBOR. Since my junior year I've been the concert director for the station. I'm in charge of contacting potential bands, drawing up contracts, and making sure the shows run smoothly. Last year we brought in Dr. Dog and this year we convinced Broken Social Scene to come up.

Did you study abroad during your time at Bowdoin?
I spent the spring semester of my junior year in St Andrews, Scotland. Surprisingly, I'm not much of a golfer but I still had a great time getting back to my ancestral roots. St Andrews is a beautiful town right on the coast and an excellent place to absorb some local Scottish color and history. While in Scotland, I also had the opportunity to travel around Europe and made it to London, Paris, Portugal, and all over Italy. Everywhere I went I was surrounded by the art and architecture I had only seen in textbooks. It was definitely a memorable experience.

What have you done during your summers?
I've spent all three of my college summers back home in Buffalo. After my sophomore year I landed an internship at Righteous Babe Records, Ani DiFranco's record label. She had just finished turning an old church downtown into a concert hall so it was great being able to work in the new space and learn the ins and outs of an independent record label. Last summer I stepped away from the music business and did an internship at the Albright-Knox, Buffalo's modern and contemporary art gallery. I worked with the head preparator and her team, helping them install new exhibits and maintain works throughout the gallery. Unfortunately, the art world doesn't like to pay college students for their labor, so I supplemented my income by moving furniture for a Habitat for Humanity ReStore and working at a cooperative garden center in my neighborhood. My main interests lie in music and art, however, so hopefully my experience at Righteous Babe and the Albright-Knox will open some doors down the road.

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Michah with some senior pals at a Portland SeaDogs baseball game.

What is your best Bowdoin memory?
That's a tough one. I think the Dr. Dog concert I organized the fall of my junior year would have to be up there. It was a struggle getting all of the funding and we were actually still looking for sponsors the week before the show. But the show went off without a hitch. Jack Magee's was packed with students, including a lot of my closest friends. It was awesome being able to bring in one of my favorite bands and see so many people enjoy a concert that I put a lot of time and energy into.

What are your plans for after graduation?
It's probably a good time to start figuring that out. At some point I'm hoping to combine my interests in both music and art, but I think I'd be happy doing a lot of different things. Hopefully something will come up. I am planning to go to Bonnaroo (The Boss, Phish, Wilco, etc.) in June. That should be fun.

What advice would you give to a prospective student or first-year about the Bowdoin experience?
Meet and involve yourself with as many different groups of people as possible. Going to a small school it can be easy to fall into a routine where you're just hanging around your main sports team or club or whatever. Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone both academically and socially. Everyone has something to offer.

Story posted on March 12, 2009

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