Faculty chats: Higginbotham talks love of cooking, ancient artifacts
“I think my ability to demonstrate how disciplines come together is maybe something my students don’t know about me—but should,” said James Higginbotham from his perch by the Assyrian reliefs in the Bowdoin College Museum of Art (BCMA).
Higginbotham is both an associate professor of classics and an associate curator of the ancient collection at BCMA. And outside of the College, his intellectual and extracurricular pursuits—from cooking to bejeweled fish—blend together in unexpected and productive ways.
“My interests are varied,” he said. “I was a zoologist and a biology major in college. I took courses in archaeology to fulfill my humanities requirement and got hooked. I took a trip to Rome and never looked back.”
In addition to his stint as a zoologist and before his commitment to classics, Higginbotham worked as a plumber on construction projects around Detroit and spent some years as a banker after college.
“It’s a great argument for the liberal arts education; you can go in all these different directions,” said Higginbotham.
Ultimately, however, his passion for art and mindful presentation led him back to archaeology and curatorial work. Not only does his creative drive and appreciation for craft take him beyond the walls of the museum to international digs, but it manifests itself in his everyday life: Higginbotham is an avid woodworker, his family’s chef and a trumpet player.
“I have a shop in my basement and I make furniture, do construction, make decks and also do cabinet work. It helps me maintain a balance,” he said. “My father was a carpenter and my family goes back generations with house building and woodworking. We were also a musical family.”
Higginbotham’s appreciation for precision and the fusion of disciplines is also evident in his cooking. And as a world traveler for digs and studies, sampling world cuisine is one of the many perks.
“I lived with my family for a year in Spain, and got completely converted to Spanish cooking—I have a paella cooker,” he said. “I love being close to the College, but the other great part of my job is travel.”
Although Higginbotham’s hobbies and academic interests may seem eclectic, each informs the other. In fact, coming out of graduate school, Higginbotham wrote his dissertation, and eventually a book, on a subject that combined both his biological and artistic studies.
“There was a great fad in antiquity in Roman periods of owning a pond where you could keep eels and red mullets,” Higginbotham said. “And some of the Romans actually put jewelry on their fish and treated them like pets. I was really able to marry my interests in life science and archaeology with the ancient world.”
These days, Higginbotham is still doing exactly that.
“For me, there is strong belief in what the sciences bring to archaeology,” he said. “I teach a class on Pompeii, and so we need to understand not only what volcanoes do geologically, but what the volcano did to artifacts. I also teach a seminar on ancient coins, and I take dissection microscopes from the biology department and look at these things really closely. We can analyze how the artifacts were made and what they were made from.”
This method-based approach to the aesthetic lends itself to his curatorial work at BCMA. Higginbotham is in the midst of assembling an exhibit opening April 28 called “Contest! Challenge, Competition, and Combat in Ancient Art,” a collection illustrating everything from heroic labors to musical competitions—all pulled from the archives.
The exhibit has an interactive component: visitors can attempt to solve ancient riddles that have been translated into English.
Considering Higginbotham’s affinity for the ancient contests, it is no surprise that he is a “Game of Thrones” fan—both the books and the television show.
“My son and I are playing catch up watching the DVDs,” he said.
Higginbotham’s interests are clearly wide-ranging—from cooking to plumbing to studying bejeweled fish. And yet, each is somehow an extension or reinterpretation of the other. Creativity and commitment to craft, it seems, are the threads that connect his story.
Faculty chats: Tsui engages issues of identity in Chinese past and American present
“I’m nobody, but I could be everybody,” reflected Shu-chin Tsui in her office at 38 College Street. Professor of Asian Studies and Cinema Studies, Tsui’s greatest personal and academic preoccupation is the question of identity.
“Who am I? How am I supposed to behave here?” Tsui finds herself asking these questions to her students in the classroom and to herself in her home.
Tsui emigrated from China over thirty years ago, and although she has American citizenship, she feels she will never be “mainstream American.” She spent her youth and college years in Asia, and moved to the United States for graduate school. While Tsui has made academia her life’s work, she was not equipped for scholarship from the outset.
“We did not have a high school or formal education because of China’s political history,” explained Tsui. “We are the generation of a cultural revolution.”
While American teens at the time might have been bussing tables and saving for college, Tsui was performing hard labor.
“We were sent to the countryside to do labor work for ten years. So when you ask me, ‘What’s your odd job?,’ we didn’t have that. We were in the fields doing labor by hands, by shoulders, by back. No machines. It was kind of like the American lost generation in that we lost education. I remember when I came here for graduate school I asked my T.A., ‘How do I write a term paper?’ I really asked him that.”
After years of toiling for her PhD, Tsui became a professor. She now lives in Brunswick in a house she designed, which she described as a psychological space, a place of personal identity. “My house is a home, I wanted to build it with my own hands. It’s a combination of modern simplicity with an oriental Asian touch. It’s home, and I feel very peaceful in that space. For me beauty—the beauty of even a doorframe—matters. I made my house like a museum. You have to paint a wall a certain color to reinforce the art piece hanging. My eyes are constantly looking for something symmetrical and balanced and peaceful.”
Tsui said that if she were to pursue another field of study, she would get a PhD in art history.Along with visual arts, Tsui is also interested in music. As a professor of cinema studies, most art forms interest her—though she does have genre preferences.
“I know nothing about rock, nothing about the Beatles,” she admitted. “I’m not a part of American culture at all.”
Tsui is instead a classical music aficionado, and constantly listens to it as she works.
“I like listening through really good speakers—quality matters to me,” she said.Tsui attends on-campus musical performances and makes weekly trips to see the Portland Symphony Orchestra.
“I don’t watch television. To me, it’s noise,” said Tsui.
Although Tsui eschews this form of media, she does not feel that she is missing out.
“Every day I start my day with the New York Times and the news in Chinese, simultaneously,” she said. “I don’t lose anything; I always know what’s going on.”
Tsui recounted a time when there was a write-up in the paper about a controversial film being aired for two days before official censorship would take it away.
“I brought the film that day to my classroom and we spent that week discussing it. That’s me. My classroom is directly connected to social reality. My classroom and reality are on the same page.”While Tsui describes herself as “a small potato on this campus,” she is relentlessly committed to bringing a global perspective to Bowdoin. In 2016, Tsui will put on a festival at Bowdoin to celebrate Asian independent documentary films.
“Be global,” she said. “Students choose [courses that are] comfortable or career-oriented. But each class can really open up your horizons.”
Tsui is so committed to the cutting-edge in film and to international goings-on that she is willing to put her career and personal safety on the line, she said.
“I can be detained and sent to prison by the Chinese government for this,” she explained. “I’m dealing with controversial topics. I make jokes in the dean’s office, ‘If you don’t hear from me, look for me.’”
It is because of the gambles she has taken that Tsui calls herself a global citizen.
“I am a private person; I am not social,” she said frankly. “But take my classes. I want to take [students] away from classrooms. I am fascinated about classes I’m dealing with. I want students to know that part of me.”
Looking back on her path to Bowdoin, Tsui named the risks she felt obligated to take despite the sacrifices she had to make.
“As a Chinese foreign woman, coming here was a risk. ‘Do I stay here or do I go home?’ All of my family is still in China. Also, choosing a major, looking for myself. All life is risks all the time,” she said.
Faculty chats: Professor Hadley Horch on 80’s movies, Dairy Queen management, aviation
Ask Hadley Horch what her interests are, and her answers might surprise you. Horch is Associate Professor of Biology and Neuroscience and the director of the neuroscience program. Her lab work is focused on conducting studies on crickets.
“I love my work, but I don’t eat, drink, and sleep it,” she said. Horch is a Midwesterner who grew up in the suburbs of Indianapolis.
“It didn’t resonate with me there, and I got out as quickly as I could,” she said.
Horch decided to head east for college, enrolling at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania.While Horch discovered her passion for neuroscience and held lab jobs at Swarthmore, she was not without any prior work experience. The summer before college, she decided it would be interesting to get a job painting parking meters.
“I worked at the Indiana Department of Transportation, but never did get to paint any meters,” said Horch. “I had applied because I thought that sounded kind of fun to be outside all summer. The lady I interviewed with thought it was inappropriate for a girl to be on that team, so she invented an office job for me.”
In this job, she was once asked to rip up documents and ended up with blisters on both of her thumbs.
“I did that for days, and it was ridiculous because I think they had a shredder,” Horch said. Horch also recounted the misadventures of a former occupation: being the manager of a Dairy Queen.
“There was one night when [the other employees] changed all the clocks on me so I closed up an hour early–I was that kind of kid. I remember a massive ketchup and mustard fight in the back that I was responsible for, even though I didn’t take part in it.”
Despite the trials of her high-school jobs, Horch looks back on them fondly. When remembering her college years, meeting her husband is one of Horch’s favorite memories.
“It’s kind of a funny story,” she said. “Two friends of ours decided we should date. They were telling me he was talking about me, which was untrue, and they did the same to him. I was a sophomore, and one night I was hanging out and doing homework in my room and my friends threw this man into my room and locked the door. He literally looked like he was about to leap out the third floor window, and that is who I married.”
Horch lives in Brunswick with her husband and children, and is a dedicated gardener.
“I’m starting to do permaculture in my yard, and I just built a hugel mound,” she said enthusiastically.
Horch describes hugel mounds as brush, mud and sticks buried in a trench covered in leaves.
“They become a sort of nursery and the idea is that whatever you plant in a mound, in theory, you will never have to water for twenty years,” she said.
Horch recently ordered blueberry bushes to plant in the mound.
“I think I might have ordered kiwi vines, too. There’s a northern variety that can grow here, you eat the peel and all. I’ll need to build a trellis, though.”
Horch admits that although gardening is a real hobby for her, sometimes she would rather dream about projects than actually carry them out.
“I would love to flip houses. Not that I would have the taste or skills to do that, but I really like fixing up old houses, and this is a fantasy of mine. I thought about this when I was up for tenure [which she received in 2010], about what I would really want to do other than [teaching], and all these crazy ideas came about. I also think it would be really fun to be a movie critic.”
In her free time, Horch enjoys watching her favorite 80’s movies with her daughter and any show with a comedic, female-driven narrative.
“I kind of like vapid movies,” she said. “I like Will Ferrell and romantic comedies. I am able to turn my brain off and be pretty uncritical with those. In college, I was into dark movies about Vietnam, but I just can’t do that anymore. I just need to be pretty fluffy. I think a lot of deep thoughts at work, and that’s enough.”
Horch sipped coffee from a 30 Rock mug throughout the interview. When asked what Bowdoin students might not know about her, Horch revealed that she has her pilot’s license. “My husband and I had money burning in our pockets, so we got licensed at Chapel Hill,” she said. “The last time I flew I was getting certified on a Piper. I hate the feeling of doing stalls, what it does to your stomach. That particular day, I really felt like I was going to hurl. Turns out I was pregnant with my first child. After that, I became more risk-averse and haven’t flown alone since, but I’m glad I did it.”
Despite her willingness to share her eclectic hobbies with the Bowdoin community, Horch ultimately wants students to know how glad she is to be teaching here.
“I really love interacting with my students. It’s kind of nerdy to say that, but I just love watching light bulbs go off. There’s really no better feeling. It’s a passion for me.”
Faculty chats: Gov’s Henry Laurence talks bonds trading, shepherd’s pie and 'Downton Abbey'
Associate Professor of Government and Asian Studies Henry Laurence prefaced his Oxford education with more than just a typical English prep school. He spent a year in between high school and college working on a container ship bound for Australia. This adventure was just the first of many in his life as he also worked in investment banking and ranched cattle.
Laurence grew up along the southern coast of England, frequently moving from town to town because his father was in the Royal Navy. For the most part, however, he was rooted in Goring, which “had the same feel as Brunswick—you could go to the shops and meet people to gossip.” He attended an all-male naval school before taking a gap year preceding college.
“Before I went to Oxford, I worked as a deckhand on a container ship and then I got my passage to Australia to work on sheep and cattle ranches,” said Laurence. “I was in the Indian Ocean de-rusting container lashings. That was a fantastic experience. I strongly recommend to people to take a year off.”
When he did return to Oxford, Laurence pursued studies in philosophy, politics and economics. At Bowdoin, he teaches in both the Government and Legal Studies and Asian Studies departments but he did not become involved with scholarship in the latter discipline until his post-graduate work.
“That’s one of the big differences between England and Bowdoin: in England you’re terribly specialized so there just wasn’t opportunity to study language or anything outside of your three A-levels, which is a shame.”
After graduation, Laurence spent time working for the Bank of Tokyo in London, which piqued his interest in the languages and politics of Asia and made him realize that a career in bond trading was not for him.
“Investment banking was huge amounts of fun. It was new and an intellectual challenge. This was [before] a lot of mechanization, and so there was kind of a human element at the time that was like a game. It was fun, but I don’t think it was very responsible.”
Now settled in his career as a Bowdoin professor, Laurence enjoys spending his free time watching the Premier League and following his favorite scheming character, Thomas, on Downton Abbey.
“I gave up on House of Cards because it doesn’t touch the original British one,” said Laurence. “I binge watched Breaking Bad though, and like Better Call Saul.”
Laurence is also something of a gourmand.
“I cook. It’s what I spend my time thinking and reading about,” he said. “Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding is what I’d cook for myself on a desert island. And I’m getting really into Indian curries.”
His favorite Bowdoin meal?
“Shepherd’s pie, obviously,” he said. My greatest regret at Bowdoin, honestly, is that they serve up the shepherd’s pie with the eggplant parmesan and you just can’t do both. Well you can, but not in public.”
Laurence hopes one day to have a bronze statue of himself erected outside of Thorne to commemorate all the time he has spent there.
Although Laurence admits to cold-calling people in the classroom, he wants students to know that he does it to prepare them for the real world.
“It’s better to be uncomfortable now in class than later at work or in a town hall meeting,” he said. “Don’t take it personally. Where I came from, that is the standard, to be very confrontational and critical. It doesn’t matter what you think, it’s about the argument.”
Regarding other in-class practices, Laurence has been known to recount the dating misadventures of his youth in class.
“I had one student who kept a tally of my stories,” he said.
Unfortunately, Laurence declined to share any of these with the Orient.
Professor Laurence lives in Brunswick with his wife and children, who persuade him to Nordic ski and attend Arctic Monkeys concerts.
Faculty chats: Johnson ’13 relishes Outing Club roles
Some of Sarah Johnson’s most important work takes place off the Bowdoin campus, but still among the pines. Sarah “SJ” Johnson ’13 is one the Bowdoin Outing Club’s (BOC) two assistant directors and is responsible for the Leadership Training program that trains students to lead outdoor trips. While Johnson jumped straight from being an involved student member of the BOC to the position of assistant director after graduation, her path was never set in stone. “By sophomore spring I had taken 16 classes in 15 departments,” said Johnson.
She eventually settled on a government and environmental studies coordinate major, but it is her passion for new experiences that made her a winning candidate for the assistant director position.
Johnson grew up in Gloucester, Mass., in a house that has been in her family for six generations, and feels a strong connection to her heritage. However, Johnson still loves adventuring far and wide.
Her mother’s family is from Minnesota and she grew up attending a family camp there. As she got older, she attended Camp Widjiwagan, an adventure camp that led her to the Arctic. Years later as a counselor she led the same expedition along the Coppermine River. It was at Camp Widjiwagan that Johnson developed her affinity for paddling, although she says she “learned everything else at Bowdoin.”
During her junior year Johnson participated in SEA Semester, an off-campus study program at sea.
“I loved being at the helm, especially when there were huge waves,” said Johnson. “When the ship dipped down and the waves were rising it was incredible.”A lover of heights and adrenaline, Johnson does know her limits.
“I have never tried base jumping or anything like that. I’m very wary of pushing human limits beyond what your body really can do,” Johnson said. “I think a perception people have is that people in the Outing Club are really intense and can be intimidating, but I too, am afraid of many outdoor things.”
Her ability to balance exploration with healthy caution is one of the most essential skills in her job. She is responsible for instilling this same sense of balance in future leaders so they can make smart decisions.
At the conclusion of the Leadership Training program, Johnson leads groups of students into New England and sometimes Canada for their culminating expedition, leaving them largely to their own devices.
While Johnson devotes much of her time to planning and going on outdoor adventures, she has taken up wood burning—scorching words and images into driftwood and giving the pieces as gifts. She has also begun to play the mandolin, hopeful that one day she may be reunited with the on-campus band Jesus and The Kid.
Perhaps her favorite pastime, though, is hanging out with her friends in the Bowdoin community.
“I haven’t really thought about my life in quantifiable accomplishments, but I think I’ve made a lot of friends in a whole bunch of different settings,” said Johnson. “I’ve had a lot of really amazing people in my life, so I’m pretty proud of that,”.
When asked about her personal challenges, Johnson cited baking, cooking and anything that involves being “a details person.” However, her ability to ferry across and descend raging whitewater proves her mastery of precision in motion. Johnson also admits she has a fear of being elbowed in the face inside tents, but claims it is her only phobia.
On the topic of conquering fears, Johnson mentioned the film “Pretty Faces,” which was recently screened on campus. It is a film about female skiers and the challenges they face as they take on slopes over 5,000 feet high.
“There’s a scene where there’s this incredible face and this woman keeps chanting, ‘Conquer the fear; that’s why you’re here; conquer the fear; that’s why you’re here.’ And I think that’s a pretty cool message to take with you into whatever you’re afraid of,” said Johnson. “Conquering fear is hard, but it’s why we’re here—to try.” Johnson will be assistant director for another year, but beyond that, she’d prefer to leave things uncharted.
“I appreciate the people doing the big picture work [in government and education]; we need those people, but I’ve discovered in Brunswick a wonderful community of people and I think that would be a wonderful way to spend life,” said Johnson “Maybe I’ll continue to walk down this road and try a model that focuses more on education than recreation, maybe a semester school. I’d like to keep my efforts local and within my community.”
Faculty chats: Aviva Briefel on ice cream, 'The Shining' and the Christmas rush
Even if you have never had a class with Professor of English and Cinema Studies Aviva Briefel, chances are you have seen her and her children lined up at Thorne’s Wednesday night sundae bar. Briefel specializes in Victorian literature and horror film. She is married to David Hecht, also a Bowdoin professor, who teaches in the history department.
Briefel, the daughter of a French father and Moroccan mother, was born in Paris. Her paternal grandmother fled to New York due to instability in France during World War II, so Briefel’s father was born in the United States. He eventually returned to Paris, however, where he met Briefel’s mother.
When Briefel was four years old and spoke no English, the family moved to New York City. “I was put in an American preschool,” Briefel explained, “and for the first month I had headaches and painted all the time. After that month of painting and headaches, I was speaking English fluently.”
The French language is important to Briefel—her children attend a French school in Freeport, and she enjoys watching French films.
“I like them because they feel very nostalgic to me,” she explained.
Growing up, Briefel spoke French with her parents but English with almost everyone else.In addition to her academic pursuits, Briefel likes viewing films outside the horror genre and reading contemporary fiction. Along with French films, she enjoys thrillers and comedies, but avoids rom-coms.
“Last weekend, I went to see ‘Gone Girl,’ and I feel it’s definitely a film that should be seen in the theater,” said Briefel. “That is one of my favorite things to do—sitting in the dark and watching films.”
Briefel described the joy of sharing films with her son now that he is old enough to go to the theater.
“The first time we watched ‘The Wizard of Oz’ together was one of the most amazing things,” she said.
At Brown University, where she got her undergraduate degree, Briefel discovered her love of horror film during an outdoor screening of “The Shining.” “It was on the campus green and put on by the film society. Before that I was really scared of [horror],” she admitted.
While in college, Briefel worked as a toy salesperson at FAO Schwarz. “It was fun but also really stressful during the holiday season,” she said. “I also did a lot of temping, answering phones and typing at different places; I liked that idea of exploring different environments. One of the weirdest things I did was in grad school, where I worked at a temping agency that was a dating service. It was pre-internet dating, and I was answering phones trying to get people to use the system. It was funny, and a new concept to date in that way, where people would record videos of themselves for others to view.”
While Briefel eventually went on to become a professor, she is confident that her top alternate career choice would have been stage acting. “I never did tons of theater, but I always had the dream to be acting on stage. Sometimes this dream is literal, and it often becomes an anxiety dream where I forget my line,” she laughingly. “I think teaching has a lot of performance to it; you are on stage in a weird way. I like that idea of being in front of a live audience.”
When asked what else students might not know about her, Briefel said, “The cheesy answer is that I love teaching, I thrive on that. But what else they might not know is that I don’t know how to ride a bike. I felt like after a time it was too late to learn. I have a friend that tried to learn as an adult and broke her leg immediately.”
Although cycling is not one of Briefel’s pastimes, she enjoys watching “Parks and Rec” and “Arrested Development,” as well as listening to her favorite Scottish indie band, Belle and Sebastian. Her favorite family activity is spending time around Bowdoin. “It’s a really great place to raise kids. They are so used to being on a college campus, and they think about it as a place where people work and people play. And of course we love the cafeteria—if there’s any ritual we have, it’s getting ice cream there.”
Franco before Bowdoin: Odd jobs and the Grateful Dead
For those of you unacquainted with Professor Paul Franco, as I was before our meeting, you may recognize him as the man strolling across campus with his black lab as you bike frantically to morning class. Franco is a political philosophy professor in the government department and has taught at Bowdoin for 25 years, which may have something to do with his reputation as a compelling and charismatic professor.
As I loitered by the Smith Union Café waiting to meet Franco for a teatime chat, I was curious. Would our conversation remain confined to the realm of academia and Bowdoin life, or would we transcend the normal student-professor banter? I felt a sort of juvenile glee at the prospect of putting a professor in the hot seat. There were all kinds of questions I wanted to ask him—about his journey to Bowdoin, life experiences, and Netflix queue (spoiler: he likes “House of Cards”).
I greeted Franco in line to purchase hot beverages, and was delighted when he asked for a reusable mug for his coffee (black). I plopped a teabag into my own cup, and we sat down for what I sensed would be an enlightening discussion. We already had dishware in common.
Franco grew up in Colorado and attended Colorado College. From there, he went on to attend graduate school at the University of Chicago and came straight to Bowdoin as a freshly-minted academic. “This was in 1990, and I have been here ever since,” said Franco.
As we talked about his youth, I wanted to work out how he chose the life of a professor. “It was always a straight path for me,” said Franco. “My father was a doctor, but I never considered that.”
In terms of odd jobs here and there however, Franco has held some eclectic temporary positions over the years. He worked as a theater usher and gas station attendant. He was also a lawn mower at a graveyard. “The key was not to chip the gravestones as you were going,” he explained.
As a college student, Franco enjoyed the intimate atmosphere of the liberal arts, just as we do at Bowdoin. One of his favorite memories involved stargazing with classmates in the Colorado Rockies.
“I was not a science major, but I took an astronomy course for non-science people. We went up into the mountains to do our observations and I remember being high above the city away from the lights, and seeing the sky with such absolute clarity.”
This appreciation for new experiences, both in academics and environment, resonated with me, and I began to suspect that some aspects of the lives of college students have gone unaltered.
“In general, though, the memory of being in a small, beautiful place with close friends and incredible teachers made a great impact when I was deciding where I would teach,” explained Franco. “It was a very formative experience.”
Franco and I went on to discuss ‘Mad Men binges,’ literature and his experience as a Dead Head. Talking about these things opened our conversation to the workday aspects of campus life, not excluding collegiate dating practices. Franco tolerated my curiosity, and explained that his college experiences seemed to reflect those of Bowdoin students today.
“Growing up in the 70s, there was an erosion of sorts, which I think we’re still experiencing. It was an organic time, but I think [dating] may have lacked some specialness, a setting aside of time away from the mundane. I think it would be great if we got back to the old-fashioned flowers–and–ice–cream thing.”
The conversation soon moved on to more important things. Despite the great leaps—and regressions—the world has made since Franco was in college, one thing seems true: college students are pretty much all in the same boat. What’s more, the things we will remember most about our time here may not be individual events, but rather the collective people, places, and experiences that bind us. And that, according to Franco, is perfectly okay.
“Enjoy your time here and do some experimenting,” he advised. “Find something you love to do and don’t worry too much about getting on a career track. Use these four years as a kind of interval before pressures bear down.”
This wisdom was well received by me, a track-less English major, but I think it is equally sound advice for those with set career paths. The liberal arts have much to offer, so we might as well get the most out of Bowdoin in our four years.
When we had finished our drinks and began squeaking our Union chairs back to part ways, I asked Franco one last question.
“What do you wish Bowdoin students knew about you?”
He paused, and I wondered what further wisdom he would impart to eager NESCACers.
“I am a very fast runner,” said Franco, nodding slowly. “That’s what I’d like them to know.”
Elena Britos is a member of the class of 2015
Portrait of an artist: Sarah Liu '13
Sarah Liu ’13 discovered the piano at age six and has been playing music ever since.
A native of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Liu grew up experimenting on her elementary school’s piano and—with encouragement from teachers and parents—decided to take lessons.
“I guess I never quit,” said Liu.
Portrait of an artist: Molly Ridley '14
Molly Ridley ’14 has been playing the piano since she was five years old.
A native of Westbrook, Maine, she is now a jazz pianist and began playing gigs around southern and midcoast Maine in high school.
Until middle school she had played all forms of piano music with no particular focus. In the seventh grade, Ridley turned to jazz, and her interest in the genre has never abated.
Panel discusses important themes of 'Hunger Games'
“‘Hunger Games’ is the kind of film everyone should watch precisely because everyone is watching it,” said Professor Kristen Ghodsee of the gender and women’s studies program. “It is a cultural phenomenon that fuels itself.”
On Thursday evening, a screening of “The Hunger Games” was shown in Smith Auditorium. The showing preceded a panel discussing its importance in popular culture and film gendering.
Ghodsee was joined by English and Film Studies Professor Aviva Briefel and Falmouth Memorial librarian Jeanne Madden to discuss themes of gender, viewer engagement and dystopian societies.
Master printer Peter Pettengill to partner with Putnam
Next week the College will launch its annual Marvin Bileck Printmaking Project under the direction of Coastal Studies Artist-in-Residence Barbara Putnam and master printer Peter Pettengill.
The Marvin Bileck Printmaking Project was established by artist Emily Nelligan in memory of her late husband. The project brings one printmaker from out of state each year to work with a local Maine artist in Bowdoin classrooms. This gives students the opportunity to watch professionals at work, as well as to practice pulling some prints themselves.
As the guest of honor this year, Pettengill has worked with numerous well-known artists, including Louise Bourgeois, Walton Ford, Neil Welliver and Gideon Bok.
Portrait of an artist: Michael Hendrickson ’13
Michael Hendrickson ’13 has always been a fan of the stage. In high school he was heavily involved in theater and sang in several choirs, but it was not until he came to Bowdoin that his a cappella career took flight. Hendrickson is a busy man. A psychology major with a minor in education, he is a member of two a cappella groups—Ursus Verses and the Longfellows. As a first year, Hendrickson was immediately drawn to a cappella as a creative outlet, but he was not originally planning on singing in two groups. “I picked the Longfellows first,” he said. “It was a tough decision.” It wasn’t until the second semester of his first year that he joined Ursus Verses.