MIT Reports to the President 1995-96


As Adam said to Eve, "We live in an age of transition." 1995-96 was a year of transition for the Office of the Associate Provost for the Arts.

After a national search, Professor of Theater Arts Alan Brody succeeded Professor of Music Ellen T. Harris in the position of Associate Provost for the Arts. Professor Harris remained in the position until January when Professor Brody returned from sabbatical leave as a Visiting Scholar at Oxford University. Other significant transitional events included the retirement of Warren Seamans as Director of the MIT Museum and the appointment of Mary Leen as Acting Director; the appointment of Susan Cohen to replace Mark Palmgren as Director of the Council for the Arts; the retirement of Joan Loria as Director of Exhibitions for the MIT Museum; the retirement of John Oliver, Senior Lecturer in Music and Director of the MIT Concert Choir; and the departure of Ron Platt, Assistant Curator of the List Visual Arts Center for a curatorship at the Southeast Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem, NC.

It was also a time of academic and professional achievement. Peter Child gained promotion to Full Professor and the position of Chair of Music and Theater Arts beginning in the academic year 1996-97; Dennis Adams won tenure as Associate Professor of Visual Arts; Pamela Wood became Senior Lecturer in Music assuring her continued inspiration to all the students she serves.


Professor John Harbison received his final commission from the Metropolitan Opera to complete his adaptation of The Great Gatsby; Associate Professor Tod Machover prepared his Brain Opera for its July opening at Lincoln Center; Director of the Center for Advanced Visual Studies Krysztof Wodiczko's Xenophobia opened at Gallery LeLong in New York City to unanimous acclaim; Professor of Theater Arts Janet Sonenberg published her provocative book, The Actor Speaks; Associate Professor of Music Evan Ziporyn was featured in the most recent CD release of the music of "Bang on a Can" and toured his music from Düsseldorf to Auckland; Alan Brody's play, The Housewives of Mannheim was cited as Best Play of 1995 by the Live Oak Theater of Austin, TX and a reading was scheduled for the Berkshire Theater Festival; Pamela Wood premiered two settings of spirituals set by Choral Instructor William Cutter for Tech Night at the Boston Pops; and Laura Harrington, Instructor in Theater Arts, won the coveted Clauder Competition for her play, Mercy, which will be produced by Shakespeare and Company this summer. In Writing and Humanistic Studies, Professor Anita Desai released her new novel, Journey to Ithaca, and Professor Alan Lightman saw the publication of a splendid collection of essays, Dance for Two. List Visual Arts Center Director Katy Kline was the recipient of the 1996 Gyorgy Kepes Award. The List Visual Arts Center also received the largest single Museum grant awarded by the still breathing National Endowment for the Arts for its forthcoming exhibition, Women and Surrealism.


Student achievements in the arts were no less extraordinary. The MIT Brass Ensemble, under the direction of Affiliated Artist Larry Isaacson toured France, performing in Toulouse, Lyon, and Paris. Alan Pierson '96 and Marivi Acuña '96 won the Laya and Jerome B. Wiesner Student Art Awards for Music and Theater respectively. Jeff Morrow '96 won the Louis Sudler Prize for Music. The first endowed Arnold and Helen Schnitzer Awards in the Visual Arts went to Chris Moore (G), Brant Chamberlain '97, and Eto Otitigbe '99. Two alumni in the arts were heard from this year, as well. Ryan Yu '93 completed his post-graduate training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and was invited to join the London company of Miss Saigon. Jose Elizondo '95 saw performances of his symphony, Estampas Mexicanas with its MIT Symphony debut and future performances booked for the San Jose Symphony as part of the America Festival, the Jalisco Philharmonic Orchestra of Mexico, the Nuevo Leon Symphony Orchestra, the Santa Cruz Youth Symphony Orchestra, the Pan-American Symphony Orchestra, the University of Guadalajara Symphony Orchestra, and the Keio University Eine Kleine Orchester in Japan.


1995-96 saw significant additions to the Institute's permanent collection of contemporary art including David Bakalar's (Class of '51) Television Man sited between Kresge Auditorium and the Johnson Athletic Center, Frank Stella's Loohooloo on the walls of a conference room in the Department of Architecture, and Stella's Head or Tails in the Wolk Lobby of the Tang Center. Discussions began for the commissioning, by alumnus Elliot Wolk '57, of a major work by Bernarr Venet to be sited on the Plaza of the Sloan School of Management early in the fall. Plans were made for the renovation of the Music Library as the newly-designed Rosalind Denny Lewis Music Library, as well as for work on the Jacques and Yulla Lipschitz Courtyard in the Humanities Building. Space was allotted to

establish a World Music Center in N52 to house Associate Professor Evan Ziporyn's Gamelan Galak Tika, Lecturer

George Ruckert's collection of Indian instruments, and newly-appointed Assistant Professor James Makayuba's African drums.


1995-96 was the first year of operation for the Museum Loan Network. Supported entirely by funds from the Pew Charitable Trust and the James L. Knight Foundation and under the skillful leadership of Director Lori Gross, the Network awarded 33 grants totaling $300,000 to museums throughout America and developed a national database to realize its mission to encourage and support collection sharing.

With three major retirements, the Associate Provost for the Arts engaged a consultant to review the organization and procedures of the MIT Museum, while Harvey Steinberg '54 and Chairman of the Museum Advisory Board commissioned architectural drawings at his own expense for a contemplated future move from N52 to the Metropolitan Warehouse.

Director of Arts Communication Mary Haller's work to gain national visibility for the arts at MIT took a major step forward with an eight minute feature on National Public Radio's Morning Edition.

In its continuing commitment to the integration of science and the arts, the Special Programs section of the Office of the Arts sponsored the residencies of photographer Felice Frankel at the Edgerton Center and sculptor Arthur Ganson in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. The List Visual Arts Center's Education Program hosted a lecture by primatologist Jane Goodall in conjunction with the exhibition, Next of Kin.

The Office of the Arts' focus on diversity and community outreach expanded even further -- producing, in collaboration with the Campus Committee on Race Relations, the advanced screening of W.E.B. DuBois: Biography in Four Voices by filmmaker Louis Massiah '82. Additional collaborations with IBA Arte y Cultura, Next Stage, Inc., and the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center resulted in the production of Son Corazon: Heartstrung For Myrna Vasquez written and directed by former Artist-in-Residence Professor Rosa Luisa Marquez and Assistant Professor of Theater Arts Brenda Cotto-Escalera; and three public multicultural productions: Kenembu Mestizo: An Evening of Brazilian Music and Dance, Three Divas--Three Storyweavers: The 20th Anniversary of Black Music, and Dreamfields: Three Evenings of Intergenerational Dance Theater.


The Associate Provost for the Arts and the Office of the Arts remain committed to the advocacy of arts programs at MIT, the strengthening of interdisciplinary work and research, and the development of ever greater consciousness of the presence of the arts at MIT within the community, in the Boston and Cambridge regions, and nationally. In the coming year the Office of the Arts will expand the current program of placing artists in the Departments of Science and Engineering, multicultural outreach and education programs, and the support and encouragement of ongoing creative work in all areas of campus life. In addition the Office of the Arts will initiate a series of Arts Colloquia to bring all the artists on campus into dialogue, begin a search for a new Director of the MIT Museum, and initiate action in response to the recommendations of the consultant.

Alan Brody

MIT Reports to the President 1995-96