MIT Reports to the President 1996-97



In the eighth year of the Office of the Arts, Arts Communication published and disseminated up-to-date information on MIT's arts programs and events while promoting and cultivating awareness of the arts at MIT, both within and outside the Institute. Significant accomplishments and events included the publication of a feature story on Associate Provost for the Arts Alan Brody and the arts at MIT in The Chronicle of Higher Education; the placement of an op ed piece by Professor Brody in The Boston Globe; the awarding of the 1996 National Medal of the Arts to MIT art patron Vera List; targeted outreach to prospective MIT students expressing interest in music and/or theater; and a significant increase in the number of MIT arts-related photos in MIT's student newspaper, The Tech.


For the second year in a row, MIT's admission application included tear-out postcards for prospective students to request information on the arts at MIT and indicate specific arts interests. Postcards were returned from 2,472 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 and Assistant Professor Janet Sonenberg giving specific information on opportunities in theater at MIT. Admitted students with interests in music were sent congratulatory letters from Professor Peter Child with information on opportunities in music at MIT.

For the eighth year, Arts Communication provided text and images for the weekly Arts Page in Tech Talk. Material for 21 feature Arts Pages and eight Month-at-a-Glance Arts Pages were compiled and written by Lynn Heinemann, edited by Mary Haller. The director of arts communication attended weekly News Office meetings and continued to work closely 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 739 individuals at their request.

Thirteen feature arts-related stories and eight arts-related photos-with-captions were published in Tech Talk's general spaces, including four 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.

The number of MIT arts-related photos in The Tech rose significantly -- with many appearing on the cover of the paper --due, in part, to a partnership cultivated with The Tech's photo editor, graduate student Gabor Csanyi. Through Mr. Csanyi, Arts Communication also made significant additions to its collection of stock photographs.

Calendar listings of MIT arts events were produced and mailed monthly to 272 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.

A World Wide Web site for the arts at MIT was maintained, publicized and linked to numerous other Web pages and sites by Lynn Heinemann. Information on the home page was reorganized to make the page more user-friendly and work began with a designer to add images and design elements to the site.

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).

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).


"Under the leadership of associate provost Alan Brody, MIT is expanding its intellectual horizons to emphasize the arts as well as technology," announced The Chronicle of Higher Education in a December 13, 1996 feature story entitled "Where Art and Science Meet." The story described MIT's commitment to the arts over the past eight years and efforts by Professor Brody to integrate the arts into the culture of MIT and featured photographs of Professor Brody, MIT student artists and past artists in residence. "There's an energy in the air at M.I.T. that is difficult to describe but is palpable nonetheless," said writer Zoe Ingalls, who referred to MIT's over 400 yearly events as "a variety [that] is astonishing at an institution devoted to science and engineering." The story included comments by Professor Brody, Professor Alan Lightman, Professor Ellen T. Harris and senior Richard Y. Lee.

MIT benefactor Vera List was awarded the prestigious 1996 National Medal of the Arts by President William Clinton. Professor Brody and Director of Arts Communication Mary Haller attended the January 9 ceremony in Washington, DC. Mrs. List was nominated for the award by Professor Brody; the nomination materials were prepared by Katy Kline, director of MIT's List Visual Arts Center and Ms. Haller.

An essay written by Professor Brody was sent to publications across the country including the Boston Sunday Globe, where it was published as an op ed piece on March 30 ("The only legitimate rationale is still `arts for their own sake'"). The article was reprinted in MIT's Tech Talk. Professor Brody was also interviewed and quoted extensively in a cover story in the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine by theater critic Ed Siegel.

"MIT might well be called the hidden treasure of the art world, or at least of the Cambridge area," the Cambridge Current concluded in a multi-page lead feature titled "Art at MIT: Surprising Intersections." The article recounted MIT's historical commitment to the arts and cited the Artist in Residence Program, the murals in Walker Memorial, exhibitions at the Museum's main galleries and the Hart Nautical Gallery, the List Visual Arts Center and the volume of music, theater and dance events.

The MIT Museum was featured in a Boston Globe story entitled "High-Tech High Jinks", which ran on the front page of the Living/Arts section and was accompanied by color photos. Writer William A. Davis noted that the Museum is a "great place for an entertaining and inexpensive family excursions."

Recognizing that MIT could, for the first time, boast three substantial programs in "world music" (Gamelan Galak Tika, MITCAN and MITHAS) each offering public performances, Arts Communication presented their spring concerts together as a series in the form of ads and flyers. The ads were placed in the World Music program booklet and World Rhythm magazine. The flyers were mailed locally and distributed at MIT music events.

Press attention was also cultivated for these three world music programs. "With more composers in its music department than most conservatories and a great variety of student ensembles (including the Boston area's only Balinese gamelan), M.I.T. is a hotbed of music," declared the Boston-based World Rhythm magazine in a cover story entitled, "Opening a door to the world...Music and Dance at M.I.T". "Factor in a multinational, multilingual, multitalented student population and you have an environment where international music and dance can really flourish," continued the article, which concluded that "...while MIT may be best known as a school for science and technology, in its comprehensive and innovative music programs, it is ahead of many conservatories." In addition, numerous photos ran in local publications prior to Galak Tika's November 16 performance, helping to attract an attendance totaling nearly 750. The concert received a glowing review by the Boston Phoenix.

WGBH-TV's "Greater Boston Arts," a new program on Boston culture, showcased Artist in Residence Arthur Ganson's kinetic sculptures from the MIT Museum's permanent installation, Gestural Engineering: The Sculpture of Arthur Ganson. They also visited the List Visual Arts Center to interview Joseph Kosuth and highlight his exhibition, Re-Defining the Context of Art: 1968-97.

Local media attention was cultivated for various MIT artists in residence and guest artists sponsored or co-sponsored by the Office of the Arts, including Maxine Hong Kingston, George Takei, Kenny Leon, The Endellion String Quartet, The Last Poets and Bread & Puppet Theater. The Boston Globe's "Names & Faces" column ran separate photos of Mr. Takei and Mr. Leon, showing each interacting with MIT students. Tina Packer, founder and artistic director of Shakespeare & Company -- in residence at MIT with members of her company -- was the subject of feature stories in both The Boston Globe and Boston Herald. In previewing a performance sponsored by the MIT Office of the Arts and IBA/ETC's Cafe Teatro, Bob Young referred to the "sense of adventure that IBA and MIT have exhibited for years now."

Other local press attention included announcements of the dedication of MIT's new Rosalind Denny Lewis Music Library; numerous positive reviews of exhibitions at the List Visual Arts Center; coverage of Tod Machover's "Brain Opera," and coverage of performances of "Estampas Mexicanas," a composition by 1995 graduate Jose Elizondo.

More information about the Office of the Arts can be found on the World Wide Web at the following URL:

Mary L. Haller


This year was the first full year with Alan Brody as Associate Provost for the Arts and Susan Cohen as Director of the Council for the Arts. A renewed focus on outreach to different parts of the country was launched, with trips to Los Angeles and Chicago and the formation of a new committee, the Special Events Committee. The Council would ultimately like to establish "satellite" groups: clusters of Council Members in Southern California, Dallas, Chicago and perhaps cities in Europe.


Annual Meeting (Catherine N. Stratton and Dorothea Endicott, co-chairs). The Annual Meeting committee presented a wonderful event, the 24th Annual Meeting, on October 24 and 25, 1996. One hundred twelve Council Members and guests attended. The meeting was organized to highlight Theater Arts, one of the six curricular arts disciplines taught at MIT. President Charles M. Vest and Provost Joel E. Moses addressed the Council on MIT affairs and Associate Provost for the Alan Brody expressed his hopes for the arts at MIT at the Friday morning business meeting in Bartos Theater. The 25th Anniversary of the MIT Museum was celebrated at the Meeting, honoring Warren Seamans, the Museum's first Director, who retired this year.

The Eugene McDermott Award and the Gyorgy Kepes Fellowship Prize were presented, respectively, to Kenny Leon, the Artistic Director of the Alliance Theater in Atlanta, GA and Michael Ouellette, instructor in the Theater Arts Section (see Special Programs below).

Communications (Pepi Weis, chair). The Communications committee produced three issues of the Council newsletter, Council Currents, this year, to great success. Currents is written by Council members, for Council members.

Development (Martin N. Rosen '62, chair). Sixty-four Council members provided unrestricted contributions averaging $3,349. Nineteen non-member donors contributed unrestricted gifts averaging $273. The total raised was $219,864. In addition to unrestricted gifts, 21 members provided designated contributions totaling $486,982 to other MIT arts programs. These include the creation of the new Endicott World Music Center, an exhibition fund in honor of MIT Museum Director Warren Seamans and the rejuvenation of the Max Wasserman Forum on Contemporary Art.

Grants Program (Bradford M. Endicott '49, chair). Under the leadership of Chairman Bradford M. Endicott '49, $65,000 in the form of 41 grants were awarded to projects such as a series of actors' workshops with a dream analyst, a spring tour of the MIT a cappella group, the Chorallaries and geothermal sculptures installed on Kresge oval.

Membership (Bernard G. Palitz '47, chair). At the writing of this report (7/97), Council membership stands at 87, plus five ex officio members. Six individuals accepted appointment to the Council upon the invitation of President Vest: Raj Arulpragasam '77, Jan Fontein, Sheldon Razin '59, Edith and Frank Wyle '41 and Phoebe Zaslove. With deep sadness this report must note the passing of the following beloved members of the Council: Mrs. Frances Fahnestock, Miss Agnes Mongan, founding member Mr. Paul Tishman '24 and Mr. Alan W. Katzenstein '42.

Special Events Committee (Catherine N. Stratton, chair). A new committee, formed to work with the Director of the Council in planning events and excursions for current and potential Council members around the world, organized to involve the arts at MIT when possible.

List Visual Arts Center (LVAC) Advisory Committee (Kitty Glantz, chair), MIT Museum Advisory Board (Harvey I. Steinberg '54, chair). Both committees were spun off as "affiliated Committees" in FY96. The chairs of the committees 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 $20,000.

Artist-in-Residence Committee (Stephen Memishian, chair). Organized along the lines of the MIT Museum and LVAC Boards described above. This committee will work with MIT Office of the Arts Director of Special Programs Maureen Costello and a panel of arts professionals, Council Members and artists in bringing artists to the MIT campus to work within all departments of the Institute.


From January 16-20, 1997, 30 Council members and friends explored the Los Angeles area, on the lookout for art, music, culture, haute cuisine and new Council Members. As a result of the trip, former members Edith and Frank Wyle re-joined the Council and Sheldon Razin '59 became a new member.

On May 4, 1997, a small group of Council members met at the Guggenheim Museum to see the Ray Nasher collection on exhibit. Nasher, a Council member, met with the group prior to our tour and discussed his collecting policy. Later that day the group attended a concert in the World Financial Center featuring MIT's Gamelan Galak Tika under the direction of MIT Music Professor Evan Ziporyn.

On May 16, 1997 a small group of Council members gathered in Chicago to attend a Chicago Symphony concert and visit the new Museum of Contemporary Art. Chicago-based Council members Robert '63 and Bonita Levin and Martin Zimmerman '59 were our hosts.

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 10 membership cards for the daily use of MIT faculty and staff.

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, Thursday evening and Friday afternoon concerts on a day-of-show, stand-by basis. The success of this unique program continues unabated.

The successful Student Performing Arts Excursions Series continued, with each event enjoying full attendance, with an average of 50 students per event. The Council provided tickets to see the following: Tom Stoppard's Arcadia, the Huntington Theater's Journey to the West, the Cantata Singers, World Music's Grupo Afrocubano de Matanzas, Anna Deveare Smith in Twilight, the hit musical Rent, the play Blues for an Alabama Sky, directed by McDermott Award winner Kenny Leon, a stage adaptation and screening of Cabinet of Doctor Caligari featuring MIT Music Professor Martin Marks as accompanist for the film and Boston Baroque's production of Don Giovanni.

The Gyorgy Kepes Fellowship Prize was presented by Alan Brody to Michael Ouellette, lecturer in the Theater Arts Section at the Annual Meeting luncheon on Friday October 25. Also at the Annual Meeting, the Eugene McDermott Award was presented by Ida Ely Rubin and Dorothea Endicott (McDermott Award Committee co-chairs) to Kenny Leon, actor and Artistic Director of the Alliance Theater in Atlanta. Instead of the usual acceptance speech, Mr. Leon electrified the audience at the Sonesta with a theatrical monologue.

At the Institute Awards Convocation in May Professor Peter Child and Janet Sonenberg presented the Laya and Jerome B. Wiesner Student Art Awards to MIT Dance Troupe, Tara Perry '96 and Solomon Douglas '96. The Louis Sudler Prize was presented to Grant Ho '96 for his achievement as a musician.

More information about the Council for the Arts can be found on the World Wide Web at the following URL:

Susan R. Cohen


With support from the new Associate Provost for the Arts, Special Programs expanded the broad presence of artists in the humanities by creating new programs and alliances, further developed the model for artists working in the sciences and engineering and continued to renew and sustain internal and external cultural alliances to support and strengthen the diverse mission of the Program and the Institute.


The MIT Program in Women Studies and Women's Studies at Wellesley collaborated with the Office of the Arts to produce Colored Girls with Pens: A Celebration of Prose and Poetry by Women of Color. Local, regional artists and a group from the Pacific-Rim, The Bamboo Ridge Collective, participated. The Office of the Arts with Professor Shigeru Miyagawa of Foreign Languages and Literatures and an Institute-wide team, implemented an extensive residency with Asian-American actor and activist George Takei of "Star Trek" and engaged the MIT community in far-ranging discussions about the Japanese internment, the American film industry, technology and culture, in a symposium titled Racism in the Arts. Strong student participation was apparent throughout. Subsequently, a Residency Planning Committee was formed in the Foreign Languages and Literature Section bringing the total to three such committees in the School of Humanities.

An additional high visibility program with author Maxine Hong Kingston reaffirmed our connections with the Asian and Asian-American community internally and externally.

Residency committees in Music and Theater Arts realized programs with actor and director Kenny Leon, hip-hop dancer Rennie Harris and computer music percussive and bass duo, Basso Bongo. The advanced work of music composition students was played and critiqued by the Endellion String Quartet during a second Residency which also offered two free classical concerts.


In collaboration with the Visual Arts Program, Lawrence Weiner, illustrious conceptual artist, led students from MIT, Harvard and Massachusetts College of Art in an intensive three week workshop which questioned and explored the nature of the Internet as a non-traditional public art space.


Six artists continued to break ground in the on-going initiative to create productive pairings between artists and the faculty in science and engineering. Exhibitions of science photography by Felice Frankel, based in the Edgerton Center and kinetic sculpture by Arthur Ganson, based in Mechanical Engineering, provided platforms for discussions about creative process and the intersection of art and science by each artist. Diane Dabby, composer and electrical engineer, continued work on her innovative composing approach, Musical Variations from a Chaotic Mapping in the Electrical Engineering area. Holographers/photographers Susan Gamble and Michael Wenyon began a residency at the Haystack Observatory where holography and radio astronomy are coming together in photographic exhibitions and a web-site Residency unique to the world of radio astronomy. The humorous side of science was put forth by cartoonist Larry Gonick in drawing workshops, classes and public programs.


Special Programs continued on-going guidance and support to student groups and staff to bring professional artists to the Institute. Soul@MIT, the cultural arm of the Black Student Union, brought The Last Poets to MIT for public programs and writing workshops. Numerous others were assisted in assessing the feasibility of program design, development and implementation.

A successful five year collaboration with IBA Arte y Cultura, a Boston based Latino cultural agency came to an end as this agency closed its doors. Festival! a concert program of Latino jazz marked this milestone. On-going partnerships with the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center and World Music continue.

The academic year ended with a two week international collaboration in Vermont with the MIT Theater Section, Bread and Puppet Theater in Vermont and EITALC, the International School of Theater of Latin America and the Caribbean. Performances in Vermont and at MIT of this large-scale project re-affirmed our commitment to innovative community partnerships on a local and international scale and created new alliances with the Latin American community.

The Director of Special Programs reviewed work for the Theater Panel of First Night Boston and The LEF Foundation and was invited to participate in The World Century Campaign/Millennium Initiative sponsored by the Harvard Business School.

Advisory Board membership at First Expressions, a Student Art Gallery in Boston continues.

Special Programs maintains a commitment to diversity through aggressive program development and support and through formal work on two Institute committees: the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Annual Committee and as new appointee to the Campus Committee on Race Relations.

The List Fellowship supports work in the performing, visual and literary arts by students of color and in its fifth year has finally matured as envisioned by the minority community who developed it. After a photography trip to Peru in the summer of 1996, the Wiesner Gallery exhibit by Kori Bevans '97 clearly showed how a student can benefit from the resources the Fellowship affords. Eto Otitigbe '99 was awarded the 1997 Fellowship and began summer work in printmaking and painting at The Printmaking Workshop in New York.

The Artist in Residence Program nominated and selected its Advisory Board members. A September meeting is planned.

A Senior Staff Assistant position was created and Holly Kosisky was hired.

More information about the Special Programs of the Office of the Arts can be found on the World Wide Web at the following URL:

Maureen Costello

MIT Reports to the President 1996-97