Celebrating the Class of 2020 with Highlights from our Student Guides

A girl in a graduation gown holding up a red diploma stands in front of a large, black steel sculpture

Congratulations to the class of 2020! We wish we could be together to celebrate your successes and we hope that art will continue to be a part of your life in whatever you do next. 

For this week’s List At Home newsletter, we passed the mic to a few of our incredible student guides to hear about their favorite works from the Public Art Collection. The List Center launched its student guide program in January 2017, and now it is an integral part of our programming and engagement with MIT undergrads. This week we say goodbye to three of our graduating senior guides. Over the years, they have conducted hundreds of tours of the public art collection and assisted with artist programs. Throughout their time, they were able to enjoy special access to visiting artists and groups as well as learn about the behind-the-scenes of the museum. We also welcomed two new guides to the program this spring term, but quickly had to adjust and welcome them through virtual training. Each of the graduates have adapted one of their favorite tours into a self-guided experience that we are launching over the course of the next month on our mobile public art map. 

Joe Faraguna ‘20 | On Henry Moore’s Reclining Figure

My name is Joe Faraguna and I’m graduating this spring with a degree in Bioengineering. I was a List Center Student Guide for all four years of my undergraduate career, leading tours around campus and through exhibitions. In my free time, I enjoy rock climbing, playing guitar, and growing tomatoes and Physarum polycephalum, most of which I’m continuing to do during quarantine!

A black and white head shot of a student guide smiling at the camera.

Henry Moore, Reclining Figure (Working Model for Lincoln Center Sculpture)

Situated right outside of the List Center, this is one of my favorite stops along the tour route. Henry Moore cast this bronze figure as a model for a larger piece later installed at the Lincoln Center. Much of Moore’s work revolved around the reclining figure motif: he was inspired by massive basalt carvings of pre-Columbian, Mesoamerican chacmool figures.

Moore extended these powerful figures, often allowing negative space to further fragment and abstract the human form. Moore explored using natural forms, both as inspiration for his pieces and as physical tools he would cast or press into the smaller models. Moore’s use of bones, shells, wood, and stones gave pieces like Reclining Figure uniquely natural and rough textures and grounded these humanistic pieces within the natural world. Because Moore often molded small-scale models by hand before casting the final larger pieces, his sculptures hold tension between the massive and the intimate.

Bronze sculpture of an abstract figure.

Effie Jia ‘20 | On Sol LeWitt’s Bars of Color within Squares

My name is Effie Jia and I am a graduating senior at MIT studying architecture and design with a minor in sustainability. I have been a student guide for the List Center for the past two years, and have conducted tours related to the intersection of art, architecture, and sustainability. During quarantine, I have picked up roller-skating and container gardening!

Portrait of a student guides wearing a blue jacket with a mountains in the background.

Sol LeWitt, Bars of Color within Squares

As an architecture and design major at MIT, Sol LeWitt’s Bars of Color within Squares (2007) is one of my favorite pieces to show on the guided List Center tours. Sol LeWitt was the first artist I learned about freshman year, during the introductory studio course. The first project we were given was based on the principles of Sol LeWitt, where we came up with a “code” to give to other students who would then create the art piece described through the instructions. It was so cool to see Bars of Color in person, since I could make a connection between what I had learned in class and an art piece that I could visit every day if I wanted.

Commissioned through MIT’s Percent-for-Art program in 2007, Bars of Color within Squares is a public work by Sol LeWitt in the U-shaped atrium of Building 6C. As one of his last pieces of art, Bars of Color lands on the building scale, covering around 5,500 square feet of floor space. 18-foot squares of vibrant, geometric terrazzo were poured in place and are visible from various vantage points in the building. Bars of Color holds even more significance to me since it is one of my go-to architectural gems on campus. Its scale is so abnormal compared to typical works you would find in a museum, so visitors are often surprised and intrigued to walk into a room where the entire space is artwork. The space had previously been a courtyard, which was then closed off for the physics building extension. The walls of the space are constructed with brick, and natural light flows in easily, producing the facade of an outdoor area. Standing on the ground floor, you feel miniscule compared to the terrazzo tiles and don’t really know what to make of the large swaths of color. However, when you take the elevator or stairs up to the 3rd floor, the art comes alive and, all of a sudden, 3D shapes start popping out of the floor. It is a great reminder of how scale and perspective can alter our understandings of the built environment.

View from above of Sol LeWitt's floor installation including colorful geometric glass and epoxy terrazzo tiles.

Isabelle Yen ‘21 | On Antony Gormley’s Chord

Hi, my name is Isabelle and I am a junior studying Computer Science and Economics as well as one of the Student Guides at the List Center. I joined the student guide program two years ago and have enjoyed learning about MIT’s incredible public art collection through the List Center’s programs. While at home, I miss being on campus but have enjoyed making crepes now that I have quick access to a kitchen at home and have found it to be quite fun and relaxing.

Headshot of a student guide

Antony Gormley, Chord

One of my favorite tour stops is Chord (2015), by Antony Gormley. It is a stainless-steel sculpture comprising 33 polyhedra, naturally-occurring forms that have applications in various fields of science and engineering. It is fitting that it stands at the intersection of the buildings housing the mathematics, chemistry, and humanities departments, as the sculpture combines art and design with modern engineering and construction techniques. It is located in a high-traffic area on campus, and I myself have walked through the hallways that surround it many times on my way to classes. It can be easy to overlook works of public art as we hurry around campus, but Chord is one of those pieces that remind us that the art is there.

Sculpture made of thirty-three stainless steel polyhedrons reaching from the floor of the Simons Building to the skylight four stories above