June 18, 2018
Antkowski Paints Pretty Picture at Work, Play
By Bruce Gerson
Marygrace Antkowski loves the diversity and work/life balance in the Materials Science and Engineering Department.
An administrative assistant who supports a dozen faculty members and technical staff, and about 40 Ph.D. candidates, Antkowski feels respected, valued and understood.
“I like interacting with the professors and graduate students,” she said. “They’re young people from all over the world and they’re doing great things. I feel like I’m doing something important for people who are doing important things.”
A 20-year member of the CMU community, Antkowski feels at home in MSE.
“This is the kind of place where I’ve always wanted to work. Everyone is very understanding and so nice. My boss, Suzanne Smith, is super fantastic. You want to please people like that,” she said.
When she’s away from work, Antkowski, who has degrees in web design and interior design from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, is an illustrator, photographer, painter and gardener.
Her pastel illustrations have been published in a three-part book series of Bible stories. A City Paper newspaper box in Lawrenceville is decorated with her checkered city chickens. And she has painted a life-sized bear, called “Red Raspbearry,” for “Pandamania,” a public art exhibit in Washington, D.C., to benefit the National Zoo.
“A guy in Virginia bought my bear and keeps it under his carport. He rubs its nose every time he gets in his car,” she said.
Antkowski also likes to travel. Her Roberts Hall office is decorated with her photographs from Germany, Poland, Italy and China. To help support her travels, she has taken language classes at CMU in German and Chinese.
“Language classes are very difficult,” she said, “and I was abysmal. I guess someone had to be the worst in the class.”
Of all the places in the world she’s been, her favorite is her backyard.
“I have an adorable little garden with an 8-by-15 feet mosaic, flowers, a stream and a pond. This is my outdoor canvas,” she said.