Alumni Feature: Joe Sweeney ’81

November 3, 2014

 Printmaker Alumnus Nails Top Job in Construction
by Kristin D’Agostino

Sometimes life (like the old U2 song says) moves in mysterious ways.  When Joe Sweeney graduated from Montserrat in 1981 with a degree in Printmaking, he never would have guessed that three decades later he’d be working in the construction business.  But, these days, Sweeney is Customer Service Manager at Windover Constructionin Manchester-By-The-Sea, a job that requires him to oversee quality control, problem-solve and communicate with customers.  Though the fields of construction and fine art may seem worlds apart, Sweeney says over the years he has regularly used his ability to work with his hands, to visualize things in 3D, and to express ideas on paper.

Joe Sweeney says his ability to think in 3D and express ideas on paper have come in handy throughout his career in the construction industry.

How did he find his way into construction?  After graduating from Montserrat, Sweeney worked for a couple of years for a friend’s printmaking studio in Gloucester, while holding down side-jobs in restaurants and construction.  After a while, he chose to pursue construction full-time.

“It felt natural because my family was in the business of restoring antique homes in Western Massachusetts,”  he says.

These days, after many years of hands-on work as a carpenter, Sweeney is happy to be working behind the scenes.  “I’m more beneficial in this position than if I had a hammer in my hand,”  he says, adding, “Many years of lifting and grunting are hard on the body.”

Though it’s been three decades since he was an art student, Sweeney remembers his time at Montserrat well.  He particularly recalls Friday night critiques where students would gather to view each other’s work and offer feedback. The meetings, he says, have served him well in life.

“You can either crumble, or benefit and grow ”, he says.  Like a chameleon adapting to life’s constant changes, it seems that Sweeney has chosen to grow.