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Alumni Profile: Tim Christensen '91
Source: Colby Echo, 12/9/2009
As a South Berwick, Maine native, Tim Christensen '91 always intended to remain immersed in the beauty of his home state throughout college.
"Colby, Bowdoin and Bates were the three really good schools in the state...but Colby had more of the qualities [that come with] living in Maine that I liked," Christensen says. His love for the outdoors not only influenced his college decision, but also lured him back to Maine in his post-corporate years, where he maintains a permanent residence.
Before beginning his first year on the Hill, Christensen was unsure about his academic trajectory. He enjoyed forestry and journalism and hoped to study them at Colby, but neither subject is offered as a major at the College. At one point he aspired to be a fishing guide, and was an avid member of the Colby Fishing Club. Ultimately, however, he decided to embrace his creative side instead.
Christensen became an English major, with a concentration in creative writing. He cites Zacamy Professor of English Peter Harris and Professor of English Jenny Boylan as people who greatly influenced his academic career.
"Jenny Boylan was my advisor for an independent study I did...I [completed] creative writing assignments across the country and I sent them through the mail," Christensen explains. During his semester away from campus, Boylan "really helped me a lot," Christensen says. "I remained registered [at Colby] and Jenny sponsored my program."
Following his graduation from the Hill, Christensen worked at Sugarloaf during the winter months, continuing a tradition that he began when coming to the College. "I also had a house painting company that I started in high school...I did that during the warmer months." After following this employment pattern for three years, Christensen decided to try his hand in the corporate world. He worked at the Little, Brown and Company publishing house in Boston before realizing his true passion: pottery.
Christensen employs the sgraffito technique when creating pottery, a method that entails scratching drawings into black paint to reveal the white surface of the ceramic structure. "I have galleries all over New England that carry my work," Christensen says, but he also travels across the country to present showings of his pottery.
Living in the tranquility of Roque Bluffs, Maine, a town with a population of 250 "almost up where the Canadian border meets the coast of Maine," inspires Christensen artistically. "I'm making things that are describing the world around me," Christensen says. "I live in the middle of the woods and by the ocean," two elements of nature that inspire his work immensely. His artwork often depicts animals such as birds and fish, which are the primary foci of broader, more intricate designs that epitomize his work.
In addition to his successful career as an artist, Christensen and his girlfriend, Jenna, have recently finished building their own house in Roque Bluffs. "When we moved up here we had 11 acres, and [Jenna] really wanted a farm...We built the house last year and put in some gardens," Christensen says.
Although their farm only currently consists of chickens and ducks, they expect to acquire donkeys and sheep within the next year. The duo also plans to increase the size and quantity of their gardens in order for their land to start turning more of a profit. "In the next couple of years, [the farm] is going to end up being a pretty large part of our income," Christensen says.
Even as he works to develop a successful farm, Christensen has no intentions of abandoning his artwork. As it turns out, artistic ability runs in his family: Christensen's mother was an art teacher. Art influenced Christensen from a young age, but he did not take any art classes at the College. "I never got into any art classes because I never got my course selection sheet in on-time," he admits, although he was able to enroll in a photo class for one of his JanPlans.
Christensen is grateful that he dabbled in various different fields before settling into his career as a potter, which proves to be frustrating at times. "I don't think I was ready to be an artist when I was younger. I had a lot of lessons to learn about how to work hard and how to stick with things. Now I apply [those lessons] all the time."