From the Director

Dear Friends,

I’m always grateful for the opportunity to reflect, especially in times of collective growth. In this December’s letter, we look back on the period from July 1, 2021 – June 30, 2022.

The mission at the List Center has always been and will remain, to present the work of artists who expand the way we experience the world around us. Indeed, boundary-pushing is inherent to the work we and MIT do, but care, responsiveness, and growth is paramount to the success of our team, the artists we work with, and the communities we serve.

This past fiscal year, we took these values into our engagement with students, presenting innovative programs for remote audiences around the world, and relaunching our website with a fresh look and digitized archive.

On May 13, 2021, after fourteen months of closure, we reopened our doors to members of the MIT community with Leslie Thornton: Begin Again, Again. The exhibition and its accompanying monograph marked the first US solo show for this pioneering artist, and it was also the first exhibition curator Natalie Bell organized for the List Center.

While our doors remained closed to our general audience, we presented This Way, a series of artist-led walks and experiences that prompted readers from around the globe to explore spaces, senses, architectures, and our own backyards.

By the fall, MIT gave us the go-ahead to open our doors to all, and we kicked off the semester with the annual Student Lending Art Program exhibition. In October of 2021, we presented three solo exhibitions with work by Sreshta Rit Premnath, Andrew Norman Wilson, and debuted a new film in Leslie Thornton’s solo retrospective.

As we entered 2022, Omicron was sweeping across the globe, and we temporarily closed our doors once more. All the while, our team was hard at work developing a refreshed brand identity and new website that would house a robust digital archive dating back to our opening in 1985. In March, we were thrilled to unveil the new website which boasts some of the best practices in web accessibility thus ensuring our work can be enjoyed by all.

Our spring/summer exhibitions presented the work of Matthew Angelo Harrison, Raymond Boisjoly, and Sharona Franklin—three exhibitions that provoked dialogue around access, labor, and perception. Meanwhile, we entered our third summer of offering a series of remote, artist-led programming for our audiences who could still not join us in-person. On The Table provided six “menus” designed by artists to challenge how we engage with food, traditions, and gathering.

This fall, we were thrilled to start the academic season by presenting Symbionts: Contemporary Artists and the Biosphere. This ambitious exhibition with fourteen international artists invites us to reexamine our relationship to the planet’s biosphere through the lens of symbiosis or “with living.” From spiders to fungi, our galleries are crawling and growing with materials that are other galleries would shy away from.

As we look ahead to 2023, I am eager to develop and implement a new Strategic Plan working alongside members of our Advisory Committee and our staff. I’m grateful for amplified momentum following the launch of our updated brand and the moments of pause and reflection we have gained from the past three years of questioning and re-evaluating how we present our work and engage with our communities.

It has been a pleasure to engage in-person with so many of you this year. To serve our audience is what pushes us forward, and we truly couldn’t do this work without you. Thank you for being a part of our community and for supporting the List Center's mission.

Wishing everyone a happy and healthy 2023.

With all our best,

Paul C. Ha
Director, MIT List Visual Arts Center