List Visual Arts Center

The mission of the List Visual Arts Center (LVAC) is to present the most challenging, forward-thinking, and lasting expressions of modern and contemporary art to the MIT community and general public in order to broaden the scope and depth of cultural experiences available on campus. LVAC's mission also includes reflecting and supporting the diversity of the MIT community through the presentation of diverse cultural expressions.

These goals are accomplished through four avenues: changing exhibitions of contemporary art in all media by the most advanced visual artists working today that take place in the LVAC galleries (E15); the permanent collection of art (comprising large outdoor sculptures, artworks sited in offices and departments throughout campus, as well as art commissioned under MIT's Percent-for-Art policy, which allocates funds from new building construction or renovation for art); the Student Loan Art program, a collection of fine art prints, photos, and other multiples, maintained solely for loan to MIT students during the course of the academic year; and extensive interpretive programs to offer the MIT community and the public various perspectives about LVAC changing exhibitions and MIT's art collections.

Current Goals

return to top


Curator Bill Arning leading a tour. Photo by Hiroko Kikuchi. Courtesy of List Visual Arts Center.

The Media Test Wall. Photo by John Buck. Courtesy of List Visual Arts Center.

Matthew Ritchie's new work being installed in the Zesiger Sports and Fitness Center. Photo by Kathleen Goncharov. Courtesy of List Visual Arts Center.

return to top


Media Test Wall: Spinning (Spring-Fall 2002). The second video compilation examined how 12 video artists have incorporated the symbolic effects of spinning into their work. The 10 videos compiled explored the ongoing fascination among artists, philosophers, and scientists with the spinning sphere.

Student Loan Art Exhibition (September 3–September 15, 2002)—annual exhibition of 350 works comprising Student Loan Art Collection. MIT students may view displayed works and then enter a lottery to be awarded the work of their choice on loan for the academic year to hang in their dormitory, apartment or office.

Installation view of After the Beginning and Before the End. The Gilbert & Lila Silverman Collection.

After the Beginning and Before the End, the Gilbert & Lila Silverman Collection (October 17, 2002–January 5, 2003)—a selection of 220 "instructional drawings" compiled from the collection of Gilbert and Lila Silverman. The exhibition displayed the paper evidence of works that were created or performed. With key artists such as Piet Mondrian, Henry Moore, John Baldassari, Yoko Ono, and Hans Haacke, this exhibit had already received international recognition.

Still from Laila Pakalnina's Papa Gena. Courtesy of List Visual Arts Center.

Viesturs Kairiss/Ilmars Blumbergs: Magic Flute—two videos, produced and shown in Riga in 2001, for the Latvian capital's 800th anniversary, and subsequently screened at the Venice Biennale, that explore contemporary culture through Mozart's music.

Media Test Wall: William Wegman: Selected Video Works 1970-78 (Winter 2003). The works of William Wegman, one of the foremost pioneers in video art, were a provocative presentation for the Media Test Wall's third showing. Costarring a Weimeraner named Man Ray, these pieces of video art history displayed Wegman's creative ability and whimsical intellect.

Paul Pfeiffer's Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Courtesy of List Visual Arts Center.

Paul Pfeiffer (February 6–April 6, 2003)—an exhibition of 17 new and recent works in digital and other media. Pfeiffer, whose work explores universal themes of identity, race, and culture, often through imagery from sports, film and popular culture, created a major new work for this presentation, which was cocurated by LVAC director Jane Farver and MCA Chicago curator Dominic Molon. The exhibition is traveling to Chicago and Honolulu.

Rapid Eye Movement—a film by Runa Islam. In this brief film, the artist takes the understanding of film as a form of collective dreaming as a starting point for a luscious cinematic adventure. Six strangers on an extended train trip doze and dream, and in the convoluted logic of dreams, their stories overlap.

Still from Runa Islam's Rapid Eye Movement. Courtesy of List Visual Arts Center.

Media Test Wall: Just Stand There! (Spring 2003). Five artists from around the world examined the spiritual, philosophical and aesthetic conditions of standing still. In this fourth installation, the presence and absence of stillness were utilized to provoke contemplation, self-reflection, and humor.

Media Test Wall: Salon D'Arte Digitalia (Spring 2003). Technology has become a medium of images, sounds, and interactions that can only be created through computers. This program selected eight teams of designers and artists who have taken the challenge to express themselves via web-based media and to explore the aesthetics of technology. The program was a collaboration with Bottlecap Studios, a design firm, in conjunction with Boston's biennial CyberArts Festival.

Still from Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba's Memorial Project Nha Trang, Vietnam: Towards the Complex—For the Courageous, the Curious, and the Cowards. Courtesy of List Visual Arts Center.

Memorial Project Nha Trang, Vietnam: Towards the Complex—For the Courageous, the Curious, and the Cowards (April 8–July 6, 2003). Born in Japan, educated in the United States, and now living in Vietnam, the artist filmed this remarkable 13-minute video on location in Vietnam's Indochina Sea. It depicts a number of young men struggling to propel cyclos across the rock-strewn, sandy, ocean bottom in an all-too-real metaphor for this endangered way of life.

Influence/Anxiety and Gratitude (May 8–July 6, 2003)—an exhibition, curated by Bill Arning, of 59 works by 33 artists or artists groups that reconsidered influence, which is overlooked in contemporary art, as inherent to all cross-generational dialogue. It included several performances, a web project, and an online catalogue.

Media Test Wall: The Way Things Go (Summer 2003). The Swiss collaborative team of Peter Fischli and David Weiss uses commonplace items for specific purposes in a symphonic series of interactions. Harking back to the works of Rube Goldberg, they magically create an extraordinary 30-minute sequence of actions embedded with physics, fire, and magic.

Installation view of Fred Wilson: Speak of Me As I Am at the Venice Biennale. Photo by Robert Ransick. Courtesy of List Visual Arts Center.

Fred Wilson: Speak of Me as I Am (June 12–November 2, 2003). As the official presentation of the United States at the 50th Venice Biennale, LVAC organized a five-room installation, curated by Kathy Goncharov, of New York-based artist Fred Wilson's exploration of the role and images of "Moors" in Venetian art, history, and culture, past and present.

return to top

Interpretive Program Highlights

In conjunction with After the Beginning and Before the End, the program held a panel discussion with artist Carolee Scheneemann, collector Gilbert Silverman, archivist Jon Hendricks, and curator Jan van der Marck; and sponsored gallery lectures by MIT Media Lab professor and designer John Maeda and MIT Visual Arts Program professor and artist Kryzysztof Wodiczko.

The program held an artist's talk by Paul Pfeiffer and presented a lecture by MIT professor Henry Jenkins on contemporary art and horror films in conjunction with Paul Pfeiffer.

Conclusion of performance of Triple XXX Rose by artist AA Bronson. Photo by J. Douillette. Courtesy of List Visual Arts Center.

In conjunction with Influence/Anxiety and Gratitude, the program sponsored curator's talks by Caroline Jones, Martha Buskirk, Scott Rothkopf; General Idea/AA Bronson: Triple XXX Rose; an artist talk by Simon Leung; Stuart Netsky's Mile Long Drawing performance; an exhibition talk for Boston-area collectors; and a lecture by Lewis Hyde.

return to top


Permanent Collection

There were 95 gifts of art to the collection, including works by Robert Mangold, Ida Applebroog, Petah Coyne, Lorna Simpson, Nayland Blake, Jasper Johns, Tim Rollins & KOS, and Jo Sandman. Donors included Vera G. List, Dorothy and Roy Lavine, Herb and Kitty Glantz, Joan and Gerald Kimmelman, and Eileen and Michael Cohen. Two works by Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba and Mike Kelley/Paul McCarthy were purchased.

Percent for Art

With many major new MIT construction and renovation projects underway, curator Kathy Goncharov and consultant Patricia Fuller oversaw the continued development of several artworks. Matthew Ritchie's installation in the Zesiger Sports and Fitness Center opened in the fall, while construction is well underway for an installation by Dan Graham in the Simmons Hall dormitory, which will open in fall 2003. The team organized to develop the art program for the Sidney Pacific dorm has selected Sarah Sze to present a proposal, while Jenny Holzer is presenting a proposal for the Vassar Streetscape. Explanatory brochures are being prepared for new projects with the assistance of Furthermore: a program of the J. M. Kaplan Fund.

Matthew Ritchie's installation in the Zesiger Sports and Fitness Center. Photo by John Buck. Courtesy of List Visual Arts Center.

Student Loan Art Program Collection

The Student Loan Art program attracted 1,183 MIT students to the LVAC gallery over the period of the exhibition of artworks. A total of 1,118 students submitted entries to the lottery to borrow artwork, and approximately 319 works were disbursed. A special web site dedicated to this program was launched during the summer of 2002.

return to top

Administrative Changes

return to top


return to top

Future Goals

return to top

Personnel Information

Director Jane Farver participated in grant-making panels for Etant-Donnes for the Government of France in Paris and Chicago. She was a panelist for the Bogliasco Foundation (Genoa), conducted studio critiques, and was a juror for the School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. She contributed essays to ART/Asia Pacific magazine and an exhibition catalogue at the Americas Society in New York, and was named commissioner for the United States's participation in the Cairo Biennial.

Curator Bill Arning presented lectures at Massachusetts College of Art, the School of the Museum of Fine Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Maine College of Art, and Montserrat College. Recent catalog essays include "Type A: The Pre-Career Retrospective" for the Luckman Fine Arts Complex, California State University, Los Angeles and "Hidden Inside, Melissa McGill," an artist book published in conjunction with her residency at Kohler Arts Center. He also serves on the board of White Columns, ONI Gallery, and the Gallery at Green St. He was named Best Curator in Boston by Boston Magazine, and his exhibition Mirror, Mirror was named one of the Best Exhibitions in Boston in 2002 by the International Art Critics Association.

Kathy Goncharov, curator of public art, was named commissioner of the US Pavilion at the Venice Biennale; the exhibition opened in June.

The MIT List Visual Arts Center advisory board and staff members were deeply saddened by the passing of Vera G. List, longtime advisor, patron, and art donor.

Jane Farver

More information about the List Visual Arts Center can be found at


return to top
Table of Contents