As 2017 draws to a close, I would like to personally thank you for your support, attention, and participation at the MIT List Visual Arts Center. As MIT strives to make the world a better place, the List Center supports that mission by creating a space for artists to push their artistic development to new levels and providing a home for students to experience new ways of looking at art. At the List Visual Arts Center, we follow MIT’s mandate for excellence by exhibiting the most cutting edge contemporary art of our time. We typically give an artist their first museum show or reintroduce an artist to an American audience, bringing their work newly into focus.
Through the work on view in the galleries, and ambitious programs designed to complement each exhibition, we strive to insert art into our community. We know that art illuminates ideas in new and exciting ways both for the artist and the viewer. Looking back, I am still excited about ideas we examined last year: affect and intimacy in contemporary art, autism, interpersonal power dynamics in male relationships, re-telling of historical moments, perception, memory, modernism, and civil disobedience. The past year has been a stark reminder of the importance of art and supporting artists. As we are consumed by newsfeeds from Washington and beyond, it has been a privilege to lead a museum that fosters cooperation, caring, and creative thought.
While the List Center is a museum, we also take advantage of our unique capacity to act as an alternative space. Remaining nimble allows us to react quickly to current issues. While walking in the 2017 Women’s March, for example, our curators had an idea for an exhibition based on the myriad responses to the 2016 presidential election, and in July, List Projects: Civil Disobedience opened. The exhibition presented documentaries, news footage, citizen journalism, and artist’s films that focused on moments of political resistance and public demonstration from the early 20th century through today. List Projects: Civil Disobedience was a forum for students and the public to revisit historical moments while contemplating the future.
The Student Loan Art Program is another way the List Center stands apart from other museums. Every September over 600 students win a piece of art from the collection to live with for a year. The art leaves the safe confines of the museum’s walls and is carried home by students all across campus to their living spaces. While registrars may worry about the art’s safety, we feel that a few scratched frames are worth the message the List Center is sending to our students: Everyone deserves to live with and to experience art, and we hope that it inspires them daily.
Thank you for all that you have made possible this year. We deeply appreciate your support and look forward to a 2018 filled with new art, ideas, and inspiration. We will continue to present creative ideas that explore the art and challenges of our time.
Paul C. Ha