[by Leah Brunetto ’12]
No matter what your background or level of involvement in the arts, MIT has a lot to offer. Aside from the numerous student programs and activities, for-credit visual arts/music/theater arts classes, non-credit Student Art Association classes, and opportunities for cross-registration, you can even exhibit your work on the MIT campus!
My name is Li, and I am a freshman (soon to be sophomore!) very much engaged in both the internal and surrounding art worlds. I am interested in the fine arts, darkroom/digital photography, and modern dance choreography, all of which I’ve been able to pursue at MIT one way or the other. I especially am fascinated by the representation of personal narratives, as well as imagined/less apparent terrain and organisms.
Recently, I had the opportunity to exhibit a sampling of seventeen paintings in the Wiesner Student Art Gallery, located on the second floor of the Student Center, the central point for student life at MIT. Before coming to MIT, I had only exhibited in groups—a couple shows with art classes in high school, and one with other students in a regional competition. Exhibiting independently was an entirely new experience, one which was made possible and encouraged by MIT’s artistic community. My exhibit was titled “Pieces of Paradise,” and I formally described it as a “collection of paintings drawn from emotional histories, observations on faith/love/power, and conceptual abstractions.” The title originally belonged to a storyboard (and the associated blog) I created the summer before I came here, but the notion behind it has come to be a sort of thematic umbrella that reaches over much of my work.
Here are a couple images from the gallery:
ABOVE: “A Shift of Power.” This piece was also displayed in the 2008 Globe Scholastic Art Competition in Boston, the 2009 MIT Student Art Association Calendar, and in the upcoming 30th edition of Rune, MIT’s journal of art and letters.
So, you may ask, how does one go about getting their work shown publicly? For me it was mostly by chance. I hadn’t ever thought of the possibility. One of my supervisors at the Office of the Arts showed my portfolio to the director of the Student Art Association, who then asked if I’d like to exhibit. However, the Student Art Association (SAA) is always open to student submissions—getting a show is really just as simple as asking (as are many other opportunities here at MIT). Once you are confirmed to exhibit, MIT will take care of all the costs, as well as the publicity (and even put it on the MIT homepage!). It requires some collaboration, for instance, designing the postcards and deciding how to hang the show. In doing so, you have the responsibility to meet and work with a variety of people who take part in different stages of the exhibition design process. In the end, you can, of course, add a personal touch—your own soundscape to set a mood for the gallery, foam placards holding descriptions under your work, or even a guestbook where the public can write their observations and impart some knowledge.
ABOVE: “Taormina Memorial.” This piece was inspired by the WWII memorial park in Taormina, Sicily.
Aside from solo exhibitions, there are also several opportunities for group exhibitions on campus. These may be arranged by friends or particular student groups, or may display work done by a particular MIT course (such as photography). Winning prizes through the annual origami and mural competitions, for instance, can also bring your work into the public. I’m excited to be exhibiting again this month—this time collaboratively with three grad students (two from the Visual Arts Program, one from the Media Lab) for the Harold and Arlene Schnitzer Prize in the Visual Arts Exhibition (May 26th, 4-6PM):
If you’re on campus, keep your eyes open for other interesting displays, and don’t be afraid to get involved! :-)