I was first introduced to the MIT List Visual Arts Center working as a studio assistant to artist Michael Joo. He was working on his retrospective with then-curator, Jane Farver, while I was a student at RISD. Working with Michael, who is a star of stars, was a big deal and his generosity led me to developing a lovely relationship with Jane. Many years later, that relationship developed into an invitation to be an artist in residence at MIT while simultaneously producing an exhibition called Orthostatic Tolerance: It Might Not Be Such a Bad Idea if I Never Went Home which was on view at the List Center from May 7–July 11, 2010.
Even ten years later, the impact of working with the List Visual Arts Center has been profound. During my time there, I had the great privilege of working in over nine labs and completing five projects during a two year period. The relationships that I developed with members of the larger MIT community have been lasting up to this very moment, and I look back at my time there with pleasure.
I was asked to write this newsletter during a time when MIT, and the world at large is going through the crisis of our century. We are all distanced and wrestling with our new realities physically and psychologically. This newsletter was a simple way for me to express my gratitude to the MIT community, and reconnect with it through words. During these times, I am trying my best to stay active despite being isolated from my workspace for three months.
I have started a few projects during isolation, and hopefully we can see the fruits of these projects soon.
In the meantime, let’s all look forward to a much better world on the other end of this pandemic.
Looking Back | Highlights from Orthostatic Tolerance
This is the Way it was Designed, Mirrored Crash (2010)
C. W. Sawyer, 2009, D. W. Davis, 2009, H. O. Nash, 2009 (2009)
Over the course of numerous visits begun in July, 2009 I met with researchers and scholars in the departments of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the MIT Sea Grant College Program’s Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Lab. In addition the artist collaborated with a group of graduate students in MIT’s 3-D Imaging Optical Group to create a nano-sized topographical landscape. My work with the MIT Sea Grant College program was focused on creating a submersible underwater sea rover entirely out of blown glass, while the Man Vehicle Space Laboratory at MIT served as a location for a film shoot documenting the artist in training for experiments with gravitational stress. In this artist video from 2012, I reflect upon the research and work created while at MIT.
Recent Projects | WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER, 2020
Together is a major ongoing project that was commissioned by the Telluride Foundation in partnership with Ah Haa school in Colorado. This project seeks to bring the community together and to add to the narrative of Telluride. I was interested in shedding light on local issues around housing, climate, food, education, and immigration. It is about coming together to research and address some of these questions at a local level that resonates more broadly in our current climate. In this moment of nationalism, it is particularly difficult to manage global issues without zooming in on local issues. This text-based neon sculpture, WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER, will be sited on the slopes outside of Mountain Village, Colorado and viewable from a gondola, slated to launch in 2020.
In Case You Missed It | Art For Outer Space
Watch the Launch of ENOCH with LACMA Art + Technology Lab
On December 3, 2018, Strachan launched his project ENOCH into space. Created in collaboration with LACMA Art + Technology Lab, ENOCH is centered around the development and launch of a 3U satellite that brings to light the forgotten story of Robert Henry Lawrence Jr., the first African American astronaut selected for any national space program. The satellite launched via Spaceflight’s SSO-A: SmallSat Express mission from Vandenberg Air Force Base on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The sculpture will continue to circle the Earth for seven years in a sun-synchronous orbit.
Dive Deeper | Explore Isolated Labs Online
My studio operates as Isolated Labs, a multidisciplinary practice that collaborates with scientists, designers, and other disciplines for projects that offer uniquely synthesized points of view on the cultural dynamics of scientific knowledge. We’re based in New York, but work on projects all over the world.
1. Portrait of Tavares Strachan. Photo by Brooke DiDonato. Courtesy of the artist.
2. Tavares Strachan, This is the Way it was Designed, Mirrored Crash. Installation view, MIT List Visual Arts Center, 2010. Courtesy Private Collection.
3. Tavares Strachan, C. W. Sawyer, 2009, D. W. Davis, 2009, H. O. Nash, 2009. Installation view, MIT List Visual Arts Center, 2010. Courtesy Private Collection.
4. Rendering of Together, 2020. Neon, transformers, steel, concrete, tube supports, rich-lite. Variable dimensions. Courtesy of the Artist.
5. Tavares Strachan, Neon Work from Lyon Biennale, installation view, 2013. Courtesy of the artist.
LIST AT HOME
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