Piper Grosswendt ’11 graduated from Bowdoin three years ago, but her busy schedule working as an artist in Washington, D.C. makes her feel like she never left. 

“I’m always doing something, like when you’re in college,” said Grosswendt. “I still feel that motivation and pressure.” 

Grosswendt is a creative assistant at Honfleur Gallery, Vivid Solutions Gallery and Anacostia Arts Center, where her day-to-day responsibilities include working with artists and managing art exhibitions. She also curated a show of contemporary art titled “Primary Urges” at Honfleur Gallery. 

“[My job] is basically doing everything it takes to put on art exhibitions six times per year,” said Grosswendt.

“At the art center, I do some exhibition coordinating, but also a lot of work with people who rent the space for music and theater or dance performances. That has given me more art management skills,” she added.

In her free time, she rents a studio so she can work on her own art.

Grosswendt was editor-in-chief of the Orient during her senior year and anticipated that she would go into journalism upon graduation. 

“I had no intentions of being as active in art as I am now,” she said.

She spent a brief period working as a communications intern at the Phillips Collection, a modern art museum in Washington, D.C., where she realized that journalism just was not her true passion.

Though she ended up taking a different route, she said that her work as a journalist prepared her for her career. 

“The skills that are most directly transferred [to the real world]...I gained at the Orient, not in the classroom,” said Grosswendt. “I found it very helpful to be in contact with people who were not immersed in academia—calling the police station in Brunswick, or going door-to-door talking to neighbors.”

At Bowdoin, Grosswendt was a double major in English and visual arts, although she didn’t take her first visual arts class until the spring of her first year. 

“Professors [at Bowdoin] make the art classes really vigorous, intellectual and cohesive. The learning environment really got me excited about the department,” she said.

Grosswendt felt that skills she learned in visual arts classes prepared her for life after graduation without being too career-focused. 

“[The classes] helped with professional development: photographing your work, figuring out how to explain your work to someone [unfamiliar with it] in an efficient way,” said Grosswendt. “But I think appropriately the focus, or at least how I took it, was to make and develop artwork.”

Grosswendt took the Senior Studio class, taught by A. LeRoy Greason Professor of Art Mark Wethli in the fall and Associate Professor of Photography Michael Kolster in the spring, which brought in local gallery owners and artists. 

“That [was] really valuable, just to be taken seriously by people who weren’t professors, as an artist,” she said. 

In the spring after her junior year, Grosswendt received a McKee Photography Grant which she used to fund a project that transferred her photographs of buildings around Brunswick onto printmaking plates. 

Grosswendt plans on going to graduate school to get a Masters of Fine Arts in either painting or art therapy. 

“I kind of graduated thinking I would have some office administrative job and I’m really glad I don’t,” she said.