MIT Reports to the President 1996-97


The focus of the Office of the Associate Provost for the Arts during 1997 has been threefold: The development of a greater sense of community and agency among MIT artists, further development of arts facilities and expansion of the program supporting Artists in Residence, especially in Science and Engineering.


The Associate Provost inaugurated the Arts Colloquia, monthly lunchtime meetings designed to introduce all members of the MIT Arts Community to the work of individual members in the different disciplines. This year's presenters were Peter Child (Music), Dennis Adams (Visual Arts), Alan Lightman (Writing and Humanistic Studies), Janet Sonenberg (Theater), Glorianna Davenport (Media Studies) and Henry Jenkins (Film and Media Studies).

The Creative Arts Council drafted a uniform Arts Acquisitions Policy for the permanent collection. The policy was endorsed by the Academic Council and duly reported to the Corporation.

In terms of the larger community, the MIT Office of the Arts, in collaboration with Escuela Internacional de Teatro de la America Latina y el Caribe (EITALC) cosponsored a two week workshop with Bread and Puppet Theater culminating in a performance, Papier Mache vs. Neo-Liberalism, on Kresge Oval in June. The bi-lingual performance featured MIT students, faculty and staff performing with members of the Bread and Puppet Theater and five Latin American and Caribbean theater companies.

In the same vein, members of the Gamelan Galak Tika appeared as featured performers at the World Music Festival at the World Trade Center in New York City.

After a successful trial year, MIT was awarded grants from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts of $1.4 million each (for a total of $2.8 million) to continue the Museum Loan Network (MLN) for three more years, October 1997-September 30, 1999. The Advisory Committee recommended 36 grants totaling $402,580 which were approved by MIT for funding to museums throughout the country,


1997 also saw advances in facilities and arts acquisitions. The annual meeting of the Council for the Arts at MIT in October included the dedication of the Lipchitz Courtyard in Building 14 and in December over 200 guests celebrated the dedication of the new Rosalind Denny Lewis Music Library. Thanks to the generosity of Brad and Dorothea Endicott, the Endicott World Music Center began taking shape in N52. Preliminary studies toward a new home for the MIT Museum in the Metropolitan Warehouse and for a new performing arts facility began, as well.

The fall semester saw the installation of a new Bernar Venet sculpture, Two Indeterminate Lines (on loan from Corporation member Elliot Wolk) on the Sloan School Plaza and the gift of another piece, TV Man or Five Piece Cube with a Strange Hole, by David Bakalar presented by the artist. The MIT Museum hosted the opening of a holographic installation, Light Forest, by Betsy Connor The Museum also initiated its educational outreach program with the opening of the new holography laboratory. As a part of the One Percent For the Arts Program, the renovations of Building 16 and 56 included the installation of apparatus to receive digital works from commissioned artists in its south wall while Susan Gamble and Michael Wenyan installed one of their works, on loan, in a north wall niche designed to hold holographic work.


Artists in Residence in science and engineering moved forward with residencies by photographer Felice Frankel in the Edgerton Center, sculptor Arthur Ganson in Mechanical Engineering, holographer Susan Gamble at the Haystack Laboratory and composer Diana Dabby in Electrical Engineering. The MIT Museum hosted an exhibition of Frankel's work in the Compton Gallery and an exhibition of Ganson's most recent kinetic sculptures in its main exhibition space.

Other collaborative residencies included actor George Takei (Star Trek's Mr. Sulu) sponsored by the Office of the Arts, Foreign Languages and Literature and Asian Studies; writer Maxine Hong Kingston in collaboration with Writing and Humanistic Studies and Women's Studies; media artist Lawrence Weiner in collaboration with the Visual Arts Program and the Media Lab. Tina Packer and Shakespeare and Company spent the entire year as artists in residence with the Theater Program and will be returning for 1997-98. The Office of the Arts, in collaboration with Wellesley College also developed the series "Colored Girls with Pens: A Celebration of Prose and Poetry by Women of Color." The Endellion String Quartet, in residence in April of 1995, returned for another successful week of performances and master classes in April, 1997.


It was another year of individual achievement for faculty and staff in the arts as well. In theater, Associate Professor Janet Sonenberg's book, The Actor Speaks, saw publication. Professor Alan Brody's play, Invention For Fathers and Sons had its third national production at Theater Forty in Beverly Hills, while Greytop in Love had a reading at the Cherry Lane Theater in New York City featuring Academy Award winning actress Kim Hunter. October saw a performance of the dramatic oratorio Reckoning Time: A Song of Walt Whitman, with music by Professor Peter Child, libretto by Professor Brody and conducted by Senior Lecturer John Oliver. The performance was in honor of John Oliver upon his retirement from MIT. December saw the first performance of MITCAN, the MIT African Performance Ensemble, under the direction of Assistant Professor of Music James Makubuya. The Music and Theater Arts Section also dedicated its new harpsichord, from the premier builder Eric Herz, in Killian Hall with the premier performance of things that flow, a work by Christopher Adler '94. The harpsichord was a gift from the Council for the Arts at MIT. Senior Lecturer David Deveau continued his leadership of the steadily growing and universally admired Rockport Music Festival.

Professor Ellen Harris received the Class of 1949 Professorship Chair. Professor Lowell Lindgren became a Margaret MacVicar Faculty Fellow at MIT and received the Luise Vosgerchian Teaching Award from Harvard University. Theater Arts Lecturer Michael Ouellette received the Gyorgy Kepes Fellowship Prize for excellence in the creative arts.

In the Visual Arts, Professor Krysztof Wodiczko continued to produce public works of international stature for the Ministry of Culture in France, the Andrezed Wajda Festival in Poland and a permanent work at PS 24 in New York City. Associate Professor Dennis Adams' WAKE, commissioned by the Neuberger Museum of Art, was installed at the State University of New York--Purchase. Associate Professor Ritsuko Taho created the Public Art Entrance to the National Women's Center Building in Tokyo, Japan and sponsored by the Ministry of Labor; Rakunoh-Shop (joyful farming shop) sponsored by the Kobe Earthquake Survivor Public Housing Community Art Project in Ahiya, Japan and Serious Games at the Barbican Art Gallery in London.

Kara Schneiderman, director of collections for the MIT Museum, won the Young Professionals Award of the Registrar's Committee of the American Association of Museums.

In addition, Mrs. Vera List, a long time patron of the arts at MIT and elsewhere, received the National Medal for the Arts from President Clinton. The nomination had been made by the Associate Provost for the Arts and prepared by Mary Haller, director of Arts Communications, and Katy Kline, director of the List Visual Arts Center. Professor Brody and Haller attended the ceremony in Washington.

Alan Brody

MIT Reports to the President 1996-97