Introduction To ARTalk by ARTalk
An introduction to the ARTalk guest author blog by Kerry Powell, Assistant to the Director of Arts Initiatives, and Ken Haggerty '11.
[by Kerry Powell, Assistant to the Director of Arts Initiatives, and Ken Haggerty ’11]
MIT is at the center of one of the most original and innovative art making communities in the country. There are over 60 student art groups here, allowing students to explore their talents and experiment with making, performing, looking at, and understanding the multitudes of formats that the arts take in 2008. The arts at MIT are everywhere and include the internationally recognized public art collection, the List Center for Visual Arts, artists-in-residence, the Center for Advanced Visual Studies, the Visual Arts Program, the MIT Dramashop, Dance Ensemble, MIT Symphony Orchestra, and the Media Lab, to name just a few.
MIT Dramashop’s performance of Leocadia. Photocredit / Hayden Taylor
ARTALK will focus on the active arts scene at MIT as students, faculty, and staff will discuss events they have attended, courses they are taking, plays they have acted in, or any other related activities or ideas worth blogging about. Students with a multitude of interest and involvement in the arts at MIT will start the conversation, including Sadie Scheffer ’10, Ashley Nash ’11, Susan Shepherd ’11, Biyeun Buczyk ’10, Danbee Kim ’09, and Harrison Bralower ’11. We welcome you to join the conversation.
So what is special about the arts at MIT? For one: the students. The energy MIT students put into all of their projects is reflected by experimentation with creativity and expression. A hands-on approach allows what they learn in their other subjects to inform their artistic endeavors, and vice versa.
Gamelan Galak Tika bowing in the traditional manner after a performance with Ensemble Robot at the Boston Museum of Science, Photocredit / Jeff Lieberman
In the next part of this entry, freshman Ken Haggerty, who helped us organize this venture, explains what makes the arts at MIT so unique and why they are important to him personally.
When people think of MIT, the first things that come to mind tend to be engineering, mathematics, science, chemistry, and nerds. I myself thought this when I first applied to MIT. A friend’s mother told me she thought I was too normal for MIT. And though MIT definitely has all the engineering, math, science, chemistry, and nerds you’d expect it to have, such things are only a fraction of what MIT has to offer.
Being an artsy person, I signed up for a pre-orientation program in the arts called the Freshman Arts Program (or FAP for short). Through FAP I met fantastically friendly and talented people: writers, drummers, guitarists, vocalists, painters, actors, and photographers. Many of my closest friends did FAP with me, and it’s great because to this day we all still hang out and go out and do things together. People here are really involved in student groups so there’s almost always something to do or someone to see.
“Wolf Lights,” 2004, by Joan Jonas
After FAP I signed up for a freshman advising seminar in the arts called FASAP, and again, I met a lot of really awesome and talented people – not just students, but professors and guest speakers whose work included writing novels (Professor Junot Diaz, award-winning author), glassblowing (Materials Science and Engineering Professor Michael Cima), origami (graduate student and origami master Brian Chan), Senegalese dance (Patricia Tang, Professor of Music), and using technology to track the population of owls (Dale Joachim, Visiting Professor at the MIT Media Lab). Through FASAP we also saw a lot of really great events, including the Paul Taylor Dance Company and sneak previews of both films Rendition and Funny Games. When my friends from other schools visit, they’re amazed by the amount of opportunities we have at MIT.
But what is it, exactly, which makes the arts at MIT so different? The short answer, I think, is the people. Not only are the people here some of the friendliest and most hardworking, but they’re also very practical and technical, and they bring these traits to their art. Here, discussions of origami include the mathematics and geometry behind it, while students discuss glassblowing in terms of molecular structure and phase changes. There are also a plethora of groups here, from break-dancing to journalism, something which I personally feel doesn’t get enough publicity.
Dan Graham’s Yin Yang Pavilion in Simmons Hall
For me, though, art brings balance to my life. While many of the classes I’m taking stress logic, math, and scientific thought, art allows me to be myself and be creative. That is not to say that the classes I’m taking don’t require or stress creativity – it’s just that art balances it and makes sure I’m doing both. In a sense, the two influence each other. I’m a better scientist by keeping up my art, and I’m a better artist by being scientific. Both are part of who I am, and I’m very fortunate that I go to a school where I don’t have to sacrifice one for the other.
To learn how you can now easily find more information about all of the arts events happening at MIT, read the recent Tech Talk article “The art of communication: Making arts information at MIT more accessible.”