3 Questions: Three Emerging Student Artists React to Their Wiesner Student Art Gallery Experiences

Students show their research at MIT through their gallery exhibitions

Each month, the Jerome B. Wiesner Student Art Gallery welcomes students, staff, faculty, and visitors to view a new and engaging exhibition of student art work. A gift from MIT’s Class of 1983, the gallery displays a wide range of art, from painting and origami, to video and sound art. We asked three MIT students about their art, and for their reactions to their experiences exhibiting at the Wiesner Gallery.

Can you describe your history of making art at MIT and before MIT?

Emily Toomey, graduate student in Electrical Engineering

Art has been part of my life and behind everything I do for as long as I can remember. Central to my interest in electrical engineering is the visual aspect of topics, like electricity and magnetism. I painted throughout high school and college (I went to Brown so I was able to cross-register at RISD too, which was great and super challenging), and paint roughly every week at MIT. I made my first series of paintings this year that are based on scenes from my everyday commute on the subway. My painting style has evolved over time. Initially my style tightly resembled realism, and then in college I incorporated more cubism into my work. Cubism was a great way to add the angles and lines that are found in math, into my paintings. Currently, I’ve been trying to loosen my brushwork, so I would say my style is somewhere in between cubism and impressionism.

Why did you choose to display your work in the Wiesner Student Art Gallery? 

Laura Perovich, graduate student in the MIT Media Lab: 

My research at the Media Lab is focused on using art and technology to engage communities with environmental issues, so the Wiesner Gallery was the perfect space for my work. Displaying my dissertation in the gallery was an opportunity to share an artistic “final product” that cemented a representation of the arts in my Media Arts and Sciences degree!

It was also very exciting to exhibit my work in the student center, where I’d have both intentional and unintentional visitors to the gallery. Many of my collaborators who contributed to my exhibition were able to visit as well as the MIT and outside community. The gallery created a space to discuss the important underlying themes of art, environment, and community. The gallery built an experience around the pieces that can’t be replicated by a slide deck or an academic paper. 

After presenting your exhibition, how do you now view the space provided for student work at the Wiesner Student Art Gallery?

Isabel Moya Camacho, graduate student in the MIT Media Lab: 

Art spaces at MIT are conceived as a phenomenon of intermediation.Through the Wiesner Student Art Gallery, MIT provides a place to discuss, argue and cooperate, and to construct artistic identities. I’ve found the gallery to be a meeting place for a wide variety of MIT community members. The regular schedule of exhibitions allows for new and recurring faces to discuss, debate, and think about new ways to collaborate on projects in the arts.

Former Student Arts Programs Manager Sam Hunter Magee and kinetic sculptor and former Maker in Residence Justin Playl curated an exhibition of our research that reflected the contradiction in contemporary design paradigms that I was a part of with MIT Media Lab Ph.D. candidate Neil Gaikwad. Neil and I developed our work at the Media Lab in order to question how space is a changing set of interrelationships constantly redefined by our actions. The gallery was the perfect location to build an exhibition experience that we thought showcased our definition of space: metaphors of thoughts working through time and defining form through procedures advocating abstraction, eliminating causal relationships and spatio-temporal locations. The month-long installation period and central location on campus challenged visitors to grapple with the concepts behind our work. 

Each student’s reflection about their experience exhibiting work at the Wiesner Gallery is a reminder that MIT is comprised of thoughtful students who enjoy representing their work to visitors interested in a variety of backgrounds. Whether it be subway paintings, an artistic representation of a dissertation, or an exhibition defining space, the Wiesner Gallery is an outlet for creative expression tied to academic or artistic interests.

The first exhibition of the 2019-20 academic year featured works by recent MIT Integrated Design Management alumni Kamin Phakdurong ’16, Yangyang Yang ’16, Pushpaleela Prabakar ’16, Jenson Wu ’18 in an exhibition titled Surrounded by Digitized Faces and Bodies. In October, Ohyoon Kwon ’20 will exhibit abstract prints and paintings. Other exhibitions will include a group show of darkroom photographs created by students of Thery Mislick, The MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology’s The February School, and winners of the Harold and Arlene Schnitzer Prize in the Visual Arts

To apply for an exhibition in 2020-2021, contact Sarah Hirzel at shirzel@mit.edu.  Art proposals of all types are welcome, including design, performance, and technology.  Curatorial projects and collaborations are encouraged. Currently active undergraduate and graduate students and groups are invited to apply.

The Wiesner Student Art Gallery is located on the 2nd floor of the Stratton Student Center, MIT building W20. It is free and open to the public 7 days a week. 

Posted on September 17, 2019 by Harry Bachrach