The MIT List Visual Arts Center boasts one of the most active Percent-for-Art programs in the country. Since 1968, MIT’s Public Art Collection has continued to grow with up to $500,000 allocated to a new commission with every major renovation or construction project on campus. The List Center oversees the program, bringing site-specific projects by internationally renowned artists to fruition.
As MIT’s campus continues to grow, we’re pleased to share news about several recent and upcoming commissions coming to public spaces, dorm buildings, and neighboring communities in 2020 and 2021.
Vassar Street Residence Hall, Building W46 to Feature Three New Public Art Works
As part of its mission to enhance the student experience, MIT is constructing a new undergraduate residence hall on the site of the West Garage parking facility (W45). As noted by Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart, this residence will “further unlock the potential of the Vassar corridor” and will place more students close to the heart of campus. The new building, which is nearing completion this fall will feature I DON’T WANT TO SEE MYSELF WITHOUT YOU, (2020) a painting by multidisciplinary artist Jeffrey Gibson. Jeffrey Gibson was selected for the Percent-for-Art commission in consultation with Naomi Carton, Dennis Colins, David Friedrich, Steven Hall, Sonia A. Richards, Michael Maltzan, Varin Ang, TJ Fanning, and in dialogue with the New Vassar Founders’ Group.
The plaza outside of the Vassar Street Residence Hall will serve as the location for Matt Johnson’s Untitled (Swan) (2016). Sculptor Matt Johnson, makes use of unorthodox and suprising materials to create playful and often time humorous sculptures. Untitled (Swan) was initially unveiled as part of Wanderlust, a group exhibition installed along New York’s Highline in 2016. Johnson makes use of unorthodox and surprising materials to create playful sculptures that reference their materiality.
Robert Engman’s Untitled (1968), a work from the List Visual Arts Center’s permanent collection will be installed in the open space outside of the Vassar Dormitory’s Head of House and Associate Head of House apartments. This work was previously sited at MIT’s Baker Library, where it was admired by many. The head and associated head of house, along with a small group from facilities, selected this work for Vassar Dormitory.
Forthcoming Percent-for-Art Projects for the Kendall Square Initiative Features Work by Agnieszka Kurant and Alicja Kwade
Agnieszka Kurant’s percent-for-art project The End of Signature is moving towards completion of the design and engineering phase for Sites 3 and 4 in the Kendall Square redevelopment. The End of Signature is a series of works that translates hundreds of signatures into one “communal signature” by way of an algorithm that determines the median line. The signatures to be featured for the MIT iteration of the project were solicited from the MIT and broader Cambridge community. The artwork will take the form of an illuminated, moving LED sculpture, occupying the cantilevers of two newly constructed buildings. The artwork is planned to be installed in late 2020, with timelines shifting given the pause on construction due to Covid.
In 2019 Alicja Kwade was commissioned to create Against the Run, a new Percent-for-Art work for MIT’s campus public art collection. This sculptural work, currently sited on Fleischner’s Upper Courtyard next to MIT Medical (Building E-23) is a functioning clock that confounds viewers expectations. The clock face itself rotates counterclockwise, moving in direct opposition to the second hand, which appears to stand still. The minute and hour hands function normally, and the clock indicates the correct time despite simultaneously running in reverse. In this work Kwade challenges our perception of familiar objects and invites us to reimagine time and its visual representation. Against the Run will be relocated to Kendall Square in late 2021.
Jean Robert Ipoustéguy’s 1957 sculpture Cénotaphe finds a new home at MIT’s Endicott House.
MIT Endicott House will now serve as the site for the relocation of Cénotaphe (1957), a sculpture by Jean Robert Ipoustéguy. One of many works in the List Center’s public art collection, this piece was recently conserved and in storage for a number of years. Staff at the Endicott House were pleased to borrow this work for their grounds where it will be enjoyed by visitors as a site of relaxation and reflection.