My Experience with the Artist-in-Residence Program
Back in November I had the pleasure of hosting sculptor/mathematician/computer scientist George W. Hart through the MIT Office of the Arts' Artist-in-Residence Program. This article describes my experiences with both this residence in particular and the residency program in general.
George Hart is a research professor in computer science at SUNY Stony Brook. His sculpture involves the interplay between art and mathematics, particularly in the context of geometry. During his week-long residence, George gave two excellent talks, the first for a general audience and the second for those interested in the algorithms and mathematics behind his sculpture. Then came the most exciting part of the residency: group assembly of a new sculpture.
The group assembly involved about 50 people from the MIT community, largely students, holding on to 30 pieces of laser-cut wood and trying to arrange the pieces into a symmetric 30-inch ball of interlocking pieces. Beforehand, everyone built their own six-inch paper model of the same sculpture to build intuition about the form. It was an exciting three-hour event that challenged the geometric insight of many of the students. Overall I think the residence served as a good illustration of the exciting connections between art and mathematics.
The Artist-in-Residence Program co-supports many such residencies, enabling professional artists in all disciplines to work with MIT students and faculty in both curricular and co-curricular settings. Residencies range from three days to a semester. George Hart's residency was department-based, meaning that I shared the costs through my own grant. The deadline for the next round of applications will be in February 2005. I encourage you to apply!
For more information, see http://web.mit.edu/arts/special_programs/air/app.html (Artist-in-Residence Program) and http://theory.lcs.mit.edu/GeorgeHart/ (George Hart's residency).