MIT Reports to the President 1995-96



    In the seventh year of the Office of the Arts, Arts Communication published and disseminated up-to-date information on MIT's arts programs and events while successfully promoting and cultivating awareness of the arts at MIT, both within and outside the Institute. Significant accomplishments included the broadcast of a feature story on National Public Radio about MIT's commitment to the arts; the first inclusion of arts information postcards in the MIT admission applications and the distribution of Student's Guides to the Arts to prospective students who responded; and the creation of a World Wide Web site for the arts at MIT.


    For the first time, MIT's admission application included tear-out postcards for prospective students to request information on the arts at MIT and indicate specific arts interests. A total of 60,000 applications were printed. Postcards were returned from 2,300 individuals, and a copy of the Student's Guide to the Arts was sent to each with a letter from Associate Provost for the Arts Alan Brody. Students who were eventually admitted and who had indicated interests in theater were sent congratulatory letters from Professor Brody giving specific information on opportunities in theater at MIT.

    For the seventh year, Arts Communication provided text and images for the weekly Arts Page in Tech Talk. Material for 22 feature Arts Pages and eight Month-at-a-Glance Arts Pages were compiled and written by Lynn Heinemann, edited by Mary Haller. The layout of this material was handled by the News Office instead of the Office of the Arts; this arrangement proved very successful and helped improve the look of the page and better-integrate it with the rest of the paper. The director of arts communication attended weekly News Office meetings and developed closer working relationships with its staff. Arts Page stories and arts information were made available on-line through Tech Info and the World Wide Web. Copies of the Month-at-a-Glance arts page (including two two-pagers) were mailed monthly to 745 individuals at their request.

    There were 26 feature arts-related stories and 12 arts-related photos-with-captions in Tech Talk's general spaces, including five stories and two arts photos on the front page. Authors included Mary Haller and Lynn Heinemann of the Office of the Arts, members of the News Office staff, and members of the MIT arts community.

    A World Wide Web site for the arts at MIT was created, maintained, publicized, and linked to numerous other Web pages and sites.

    The arts at MIT were the focus of the Winter 1996 issue of MIT Spectrum, a newsletter produced by MIT's Office of Resource Development. The issue began with an introduction by President Charles M. Vest on the "Importance of Art" which proclaimed that "Not only are the arts healthy here, but they are thriving, a great testimony to the talent, dedication, an enthusiam of so many of our faculty and students." The publication featured articles on architect I.M. Pei '40, sculptor David Bakalar '51, Institute Professor John Harbison, Alma Mater (the mural in Walker Memorial's Morss Hall), Associate Provost for the Arts Alan Brody, and art patron Margaret McDermott.

    The director of arts communication represented the Office of the Arts and gave presentations on the arts at MIT during Parent's Weekend and Campus Preview Weekend (for prospective women and minority students)

    The Director of Arts Communication, with assistance from List Visual Arts Center Director Katy Kline, nominated arts patron Vera List for the 1996 National Medal for the Arts.

    Arts Communication continued to oversee ArtsNet, which consists of about 90 campus arts representatives, the "Arts at MIT" bulletin board in Lobby Seven, and the weekly "Arts Hotline" (253-ARTS).

    IAP activities included 90 arts-related programs, workshops, and performances. Separate listings of arts events occuring during IAP were prepared by Arts Communication and distributed throughout the Institute.


    A National Public Radio (NPR) feature story about the arts at MIT ran on the January 16, 1996 broadcast of "Morning Edition." The eight-minute-long story featured comments from former Associate Provost for the Arts Ellen T. Harris, Artist-in-Residence Felice Frankel, Professors John Harbison, Tod Machover and Jerome Friedman and several MIT students. Reporter Phyllis Joffe cited MIT's commitment to the arts at a time when most programs face challenges. "No one questions that most students come to the Institute to pursue science and technology, usually with a passion. But once they get to MIT, many venture to the arts with the same earnest intensity," she announced. Following the broadcast, NPR received nearly 200 requests for copies of tapes and transcripts; the Office of the Arts received numerous requests for information on MIT's arts programs and philosophies from arts administrators, teachers, and parents, many of whom expressed their appreciation of MIT as an educational "role model" in maintaining its commitment to the arts. Cassette tapes of the broadcast were mailed out to members of the Council for the Arts at MIT.

    Arts Communication assisted in the announcement of the new Museum Loan Network Program, the announcement of its first grants, and the creation of its brochure. The program, hosted at MIT, generated great interest in the media, including announcements/stories about the program in the Boston Globe, the Boston Herald, Artnews, and The New York Times, among others.

    Other MIT-related arts "news" announcements covered in the local media included naming of Alan Brody to the position of Associate Provost for the Arts; MIT Heritage of the Arts of South Asia (MITHAS), a new, pan-ethnic society formed for the preservation and presentation of the classical performing arts of South Asia, and its first concerts; the advancing of the MIT Chorallaries to the national championship of College A Capella in New York City's Avery Fisher Hall (their fellow a capella ensemble, The Logarhythms, were also mentioned in a New York Times Education article on the popularity of a capella on campuses); next year's artist residency by Shakespeare and Company (leading the Boston Globe's "Backstage" column, with quotes by Tina Packer and Associate Provost for the Arts Alan Brody).

    Exhibitions at the List Visual Arts Center earned positive reviews from the Boston Globe, Cambridge Chronicle, Harvard Crimson, and others. Face to Face: Recent Abstract Painting, prompted the Tab to write that "the curators [Helaine Posner and Katy Kline] have succeeded. There is as much to look at as there is to think about at the List." Helaine Posner, List curator, was featured as one of "five Boston-area women who have forged successful careers in the visual arts" in a story that ran in the Sunday Boston Globe on Sunday, Jan. 28,1996. Referring to the List Center as "arguably the Boston area's most adventurous presenter of the visual arts" the article noted Ms. Posner's work with such themes as "the body, psychological insights and feminist revisionist theory."

    An August, 1995 article headlined "You gotta have Art" in the Boston Business Journal featured The Dean's Gallery in the Sloan School of Management and an interview with Dean Glen Urban on the importance of creativity in management training. "Urban ...sees art as the best way to open students to new ways of thinking. Working in art ranging from watercolors to sculpture--Urban's own passion--teaches numerous lessons, he said. Managers need to realize that immediate success isn't everything."

    The installation of Frank Stella's Loohooloo on the walls of a specially-constructed conference room at the Department of Architecture rated a large photograph in the Boston Globe's "Names and Faces" column. The work, along with Stella's Heads or Tails, which was installed in the new Tang Center, was mentioned in various MIT publications.

    A photograph of graduate student Scott Schiamberg's Council for the Arts-sponsored project, The Garden in the Machine -- consisting of a wheat field and panel texts in Lobby Seven -- was taken by Associated Press and picked up by press nation-wide. The project was also documented with a color photo in the Boston Globe and by a television news crew for Channel Seven.

    Photographs by artist-in-residence Felice Frankel were featured on the covers of Science (Aug 4) and Nature (Aug 17). A feature story in the Boston Globe (Oct. 23) titled "Scientific exposure: MIT photographer captures the beauty of research," referred to her an artist-in-residence who is "out to create a whole new profession: science photographer." Her work was featured in a photo essay in the May/June issue of Technology Review.

    Former artist-in-residence Arthur Ganson was featured in the January 1996 issue of Smithsonian Magazine. "The sculptor has found a visual language that seems to have universal appeal," the article reported, noting the popularity of Mr. Ganson's MIT residency and Compton Gallery exhibition.

    Local media attention given to other MIT artists-in-residence and guest artists sponsored or co-sponsored by the Office of the Arts included enthusiastic reviews of a performance by Brazilian choreographer Marlene Silva and her 24-person dance company (Kenembu: Brazil Mestizo), and of a performance by Conjunto Folklórico Nacional de Cuba, which noted that "...they turned the concert into a free-form and full-spirited celebration." Steve Reich's March 1995 residency at MIT was ranked in the number eight slot for Performing Arts in the "Best of..." listings for 1995 by the Tab's T.J. Medrek Jr.

    The MIT Club of Boston's 50th Anniversary Gala Celebration at the Museum of Fine Arts focused on the arts at MIT and featured MIT alumni/ae who have achieved recognition in the arts. The event was covered by the Boston Globe's Partylines, and arts brochures were distributed to the attendees.

    Other media attention for MIT artists and programs included a story on Roadkill Buffet (MIT's improvisation troupe) in the Boston Globe's City Weekly section; an item on the MIT Shakespeare Ensemble's spring production ofThe Tempest with MIT's Gamelan Galak Tika; a feature-length story on Gamelan Galak Tika in the Cambridge Chronicle's Entertainment Line; a Globe feature story that referred to the MIT Museum as one of eight Boston-area "urban outposts for the truly techno-hip."

    Arts Media Calendars were produced and mailed monthly to 261 members of the electronic and print media. Press releases and posters were produced for major events and announcements, and mailed locally and nationally to targeted writers and media sources.

    The "The Arts at MIT" brochure was chosen as one of four winners in the Confetti/Circa Designer Competition held by Fox River Paper Company.


    The debut performance by Sonos, a new chamber ensemble comprised of MIT faculty members Marcus Thompson, viola and David Deveau, piano and Boston University faculty members Bayla Keyes, violin and Andres Diaz received a glowing review by the Boston Globe's Richard Buell ("Make a note of them");. Professor Anita Desai's new novel, Journey to Ithaca, received positive comments by the Boston Globe and India Currents Magazine, among others; the world premieres of Recordare and San Antonio Sonata by Professor John Harbison, received positive reviews from the Boston Globe; The Boston Phoenix listed MIT lecturer Kermit Dunkelberg's performance in Letters from Sarajevo at the Boston Center for the Arts as one of the year's best in their year-end round-up, and the February 1996 edition of NEED (New England Entertainment Digest) awarded Mr. Dunkelberg an honorable mention as one of 1995's best performers; Wellington ("Duke") Reiter, assistant professor of architecture, garnered excellent reviews for Island Culture: A Sculptural Investigation of Isolation and Containment, an exhibition at the Massachusetts College of Art in February, 1996, including one by the Boston Globe's Christine Temin; Xenology: Immigrant Instruments, an exhibition on view at the Galerie Lelong in New York City by Krzysztof Wodiczko, director of the Center for Advanced Visual Studies, received positive reviews, including one from Time Out New York; Robert Campbell of the Boston Globe offered critical praise for Open Strings for e: Search on the Journey, an exhibit of the works of Professor Jan Wampler of the School of Architecture and Planning on view at the MIT Museum; Arts Communication began working with Professor Tod Machover to promote his upcoming Brain Opera, whose initial press attention included stories in the New York Times and the Boston Herald.

    Mary L. Haller


    In its sixth year, Special Programs expanded the Artist-in-Residence Program within the School of Humanities and Social Science, continued a major long term initiative to integrate artists and develop the model for the program in the Schools of Science and Engineering, and strengthened its role as a collaborative producer of significant and diverse programs with local cultural agencies. Planning for the Artist-in-Residence Program Advisory Board began.


    In collaboration with the Campus Committee on Race Relations, the Office of the Arts produced the advanced screening of W.E.B. DuBois: Biography in Four Voices. The filmmaker, Louis Massiah '82, along with composer Dwight Andrews and narrator Thulani Davis participated in a panel discussion and related Residency activities in Film and Media Studies, "Music for Film," and other Humanities courses in the Media Lab Interactive Cinema Program. At the time of submission of this report, Mr. Massiah has received a MacArthur Award.

    The third and final year of a three year Music Residency with Balinese artists I Nyoman Catra and Desak Made Suarti Laksmi ended and was marked by well-attended, indoor and outdoor concerts performed by MIT's ensemble, Gamelan Galak Tika. After three years of coaching in Balinese music and dance, the student orchestra is off to a very promising start as evidenced by their expanding concert appearances at many New England universities. Additional support for a second phase of the Balinese Residency -- bringing Balinese composers and the Kronos String Quartet to work with Gamelan Galak Tika -- has been requested from the Asian Cultural Council.

    A return Residency by the ROVA Saxophone Quartet proved very successful and spurred the Music Residency Committee toward longer range planning for the continuation of successful residencies such as ROVA and Endellion String Quartet.

    The Theater Section began a Residency Committee and set a new programmatic and financial planning standard with the development of a three year Artist-in-Residence Program Plan.

    The Asian American Exhibit at the List Visual Arts Center provided a substantial opportunity for resuming work with the Asian and Asian-American communities in and outside of MIT. Curator Margo Machida worked with the Women's Studies Program and the Office of the Arts on panel discussions and in classes which raised and examined the question of mixed identity among Asians.

    The Community Fellows Program initiated a Residency with Nicaraguan primitive painter and activist Miriam Guevarra who participated in Fellows Program classes, and -- through technique classes -- worked with Foreign Language and Literature teachers to encourage Spanish-English bilingual students in the English as a Second Language (ESL) Program, and provided theater students with Nicaraguan scenarios for improvisation.


    Images by science photographer Felice Frankel, who is based in the Edgerton Center, appeared on the cover of both Science and Nature last August. Her images of MIT research graced prominent publications from the School of Science, the Center for Material Science and Engineering, and the 1996 MIT Facts brochure. Sculptor Arthur Ganson offered discussions on the creative process. Long-term Residency Partnerships with each of these artists, who live locally, have been formed, and plans for three future residencies were developed.


    Collaborations with many local agencies continued. The fifth year of working with IBA Arte Y Cultura and the first year with Next Stage, Inc. (a producer of women's theater), together gave birth to Son Corazon: Heartstrung For Myrna Vazquez written by a former Artist-in-Residence, Rosa Luisa Marquez, and current MIT Theater faculty member Brenda Cotto-Escalera. The script has subsequently been optioned for production at the New World Theater Summer Play Lab at University of Massachusetts-Amherst, with substantial regional funding support.

    Additional community collaborations resulted in the three public multicultural productions: Kenembu Mestizo: An Evening of Brazilian Music and Dance, Three Divas--Three Storyweavers: The 20th Anniversary of Black Music and Dance and Dreamfields: Three Evenings of Intergenerational Dance Theater. These programs were co-produced by the Cambridge Multicultural Art Center.

    First Expressions Gallery for University Student Art planned an MIT exhibition program for the Fall of 1996.

    Maureen Costello


    The Council for the Arts at MIT completed a year of change and renewal, all the while continuing in the refinement of its work in standing and prize committees, and the development of new initiatives to foster student engagement with the arts. The year saw the succession of Alan Brody to the position of Associate Provost for the Arts, held until August 1995 by Ellen T. Harris. Mark Palmgren, Director of the Council for the Arts, also stepped down, finishing his stay in July 1995; Susan Cohen assumed the title in February 1996.


    Annual Meeting (Catherine N. Stratton, Chair)

    Led by Catherine N. Stratton, the Annual Meeting committee presented an entertaining and informative event, the 23rd Annual meeting, on October 19 and 20, 1995. One hundred twenty-three Council Members and guests attended. The meeting was organized to highlight the Visual Arts, one of the six curricular arts disciplines at MIT. President Charles M. Vest and Provost Joel E. Moses addressed the Council on MIT affairs, and Associate Provost for the Arts Ellen T. Harris delivered her final "State of the Arts" address at the Friday morning business meeting in Bartos Theater.

    Also at the Friday morning session Cheryl Morse and Glorianna Davenport presented excerpts from "A Random Walk Through the 21st Century: A CD-ROM Portrait of Jerome B. Wiesner," which featured an interview with our own Kay Stratton. Also, as an additional tribute to Dr. Wiesner, Ida Ely Rubin announced the gift, by Yulla Lipchitz, of three Jacques Lipchitz sculptures to MIT's permanent collection in Dr. Wiesner's memory.

    The Eugene McDermott Award and the Gyorgy Kepes Fellowship Prize were presented, respectively, to Jeff Wall, a photographer from Vancouver, BC who works in large-format cibachrome prints, and Katy Kline, the Director of the world-renowned List Visual Arts Center (see Special Programs below).

    Development (Martin N. Rosen '62, Chair ad hoc)

    Sixty-two Council members provided unrestricted contributions averaging $3,076. Sixteen non-member donors contributed unrestricted gifts averaging $469. The total raised was $198,255. In addition to unrestricted gifts, 19 members provided designated contributions totaling $266,237 to other MIT arts programs. These include support for the renovation of the Music Library, architecture exhibitions at the MIT Museum, and the "Student Playwrights in Performance" series developed by the Theater Arts faculty.

    Grants Program (Bradford M. Endicott '49, Chair)

    Under the leadership of Chairman Bradford M. Endicott '49, $64,470 in the form of 29 grants were awarded to projects such as the recreation of a Rain Forest in holographic form at the MIT Museum to the overnight installation of a Texas wheatfield in Lobby Seven as a comment on the pastoral in the technological.

    Membership (Bernard G. Palitz '47, Chair)

    At the writing of this report (7/96), Council membership stands at 83, excluding five ex officio members and two Life members. Eight individuals accepted appointment to the Council upon the invitation of President Vest: Ellen Berman, Anne and Bruce '59 Blomstrom, Lawrence Erdmann '63, Alan Fetzer, Marian Marill, and Ruth and Daniel '45 Vershbow. With deep sadness this report must note the passing of two beloved members of the Council: Mr. James S. Plaut and Mrs. Peggy Lamson. The Grants Committee, upon which both served, will be sadly lacking without their informed presence.

    List Visual Arts Center (LVAC) Advisory Committee (Kitty Glantz, Chair)

    and MIT Museum Advisory Board (Harvey I. Steinberg '54, Chair)

    Both committees were spun off as "affiliated Committees" this year. The chairs of the committees still sit on the Executive Committee of the Council, which annually allocates funding to both to be used at their respective directors' discretion. The List Visual Arts Center received $15,000 and the MIT Museum $22,500.


    Museum Membership Program

    Since 1980, the Council has underwritten MIT's enrollment in the University Membership Program offered by the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. This program provides free admission and discount benefits to all MIT undergraduate and graduate students, as well as ten membership cards for the daily use of MIT faculty and staff.

    Boston Symphony Orchestra Program

    The free-ticket program with the Boston Symphony Orchestra continued this year. MIT students can obtain, with their student ID, free admittance to Open Rehearsals, Tuesday evening and Friday afternoon concerts on a day-of-show, stand-by basis. The success of this unique program continues unabated.

    Performing Arts Excursions

    The successful Student Performing Arts Excursions Series continued, with each event enjoying full attendance, with an average of 50 students per event. The Council sponsored the following: Hamlet, Letters from Sarajevo, The Tempest, Dancers and Musicians of Bali, Charlie Chaplin's The Circus, Ballets Africains, Porgy and Bess, Seven Guitars, and the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater of America.

    Endowed Prizes and Awards

    The Gyorgy Kepes Fellowship Prize was presented to Katy Kline, Director of MIT's List Visual Arts Center, at the Annual Meeting. Longtime LVAC supporter and Council member Dorothy Lavine offered remarks about Katy to the assembly. Also at the Annual Meeting, the Eugene McDermott Award was presented by Ida Ely Rubin (McDermott Award Committee chair) to Jeff Wall, a contemporary photographer from Vancouver, BC. Tom Sokolowski, Director of the Grey Art Gallery at New York University, offered remarks on Wall's work at the award presentation.

    At the Institute Awards Convocation on Monday, May 13, Associate Provost for the Arts Alan Brody presented the Laya and Jerome B. Wiesner Student Art Awards to Alan Pierson '96 and Ivi Acuña '96. The Louis Sudler Prize was presented to Jeffrey Morrow '96 for his achievement as a composer.

    Susan R. Cohen


    The Museum Loan Network (MLN), a program funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts, was launched in October 1995 to promote collection sharing among museums in the United States. The program, administered by the Office of the Arts, was created to encourage museums across the country to tap the potential of one of their most valuable but underutilized resources: artworks currently in storage. By making grants available to both borrowing and lending institutions for long-term loans, the MLN is helping these organizations bring to light thousands of artworks that lie hidden in storage rooms across the country and simultaneously broadening collections of borrowing museums.


    The program got its start in 1993 when the Knight Foundation commissioned a feasibility study to determine the amount of interest in a national collection-sharing initiative. The enthusiastic response to the study by potential borrowing and lending institutions convinced the Knight Foundation to proceed and encouraged The Pew Charitable Trusts to become full partners in the new program. In October 1995, MIT was chosen as the administrative site for the program because of its dynamic arts community and excellence in science and technology. Its expertise in information science is of particular value as the MLN develops a computerized directory of objects and collections available for loan, a strategic component of the program.


    In the first year of the program, the MLN selected an Advisory Committee drawn from members of the national museum community, completed the design of the program, established a database, identified a universe of participant organizations and finally awarded grants. In addition, an important facet of this first year was to actively promote the program to the museum community and to encourage and assist museums in participating.

    After the selection of MIT as the host institution, the first priority of the MLN was to formalize the mission, goals, eligibility requirements and guidelines. By May 1996, approximately 400 sets of guidelines were sent out to institutions throughout the United States.


    Development began in 1996 on a key element of the Museum Loan Network: the MLN Directory. Its primary goal is to create a practical means of identifying art objects available for long-term loan. The MLN will utilize standards already developed in the field to promote compatibility. Both the Categories for the Description of Works of Art, a combined initiative of the Getty Art History Information Project and the College Art Association, and the Art and Architecture Thesaurus will play a major role. The technological components of the data base are being developed at MITís Center for Educational Computing Initiatives.

    By bringing to the public information about objects that have been lying in collection storage, the directory will not only help bring these objects into public view, but will provide important new information about collections that will aid in their research.


    The first press packet was sent out by the Knight Foundation in early October 1995 to over 500 museums and museum organizations and another 200 copies to the press. Following the first grant awards in February 1996, approximately 500 press releases were distributed to museums, museum organizations and press. An informational brochure was produced in May 1996, just prior to the American Association of Museums (AAM) Conference. This brochure was distributed at AAM and regional meetings and will be the focus of a mailing during the summer of 1996.

    Press attention in the first year was extremely favorable and helped considerably in the promotion of the program. Besides articles appearing in specialized journals (i.e., Museum News, Art News, The Art Newspaper) and regional museum newsletters, articles appeared in national and local newspapers throughout the United States, including, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and The Miami Herald.

    Since October 1, 1995, the MLN director attended the Directorís Forum in NY, the New England Museum Associationís annual meeting in Springfield, MA, and the Association of Art Museum Directors in Ottawa. In addition, the director was invited to give lectures on the program at the New England Consortium of Community Art Museums, the College Art Association in Boston, the Texas Museums Association in Dallas, and the American Association of Museums in Minneapolis.


    The Museum Loan Network awards two types of grants to eligible non-profit institutions in the United States: planning grants and implementation grants. Planning grants consist of two types: travel grants which are available to museums interested in borrowing art objects to support travel of personnel to prospective lending institutions to research possible loans and initiate loan negotiations; and surveying grants available to lending institutions to enable them to identify objects for future loans that can be included in the MLN Directory. Implementation grants are made available to support costs associated with actual loans of objects.

    In the February 1996 Advisory Committee meeting in Miami and June 1996 Advisory Committee at MIT, 33 grants totaling nearly $300,000 were recommended, to be approved by MIT to be awarded to museums throughout the country, including survey grants to such prestigious institutions as the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; The Brooklyn Museum and The Saint Louis Art Museum. Travel grants were awarded to, among others, the Phoenix Art Museum, the Stanford University Museum of Art, and Williams College Museum of Art. The first implementation grants were awarded to such geographically disperse institutions as the Mobile Museum of Art in Alabama, The Old Jail Art Center in Texas, and the University of Missouri-Columbia Museum of Art and Archaeology.

    Lori Gross

    MIT Reports to the President 1995-96