Bill Viola

Instrumental in establishing video as a vital medium of contemporary art

The Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT recognizes innovative talents and offers the recipient a $100,000 prize and a campus residency.

 

The Award

Established in 1974 by the Council for the Arts at MIT, the Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT is bestowed upon individuals whose artistic trajectory and body of work indicate that they will achieve the highest distinction as leaders in their fields. One of the most generous arts honors in the US, the Award reflects MIT’s commitment to risk-taking, problem solving and to the idea of connecting creative minds across disciplines. The Award is considered an investment in the recipient’s future creative work, rather than a prize for a particular project or lifetime of achievement.

 

The Residency

A distinctive feature of the Award is a campus residency, which includes a celebratory event at which the Award is presented, a public presentation of the artist’s work and significant interactions with students, faculty and staff. The goal of the residency is to provide the recipient unparalleled access to the creative energy and cutting-edge research found in the MIT community and to have the recipient connect with departments, laboratories and research centers throughout the Institute in ways that will be mutually enlightening.

 

The Selection Process

The Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT may be given to an artist working in any field or cross-disciplinary activity, including architecture, creative writing, dance, design, filmmaking, media arts, music, theater and visual arts. Award nominees are identified by an Advisory Committee, which is composed of international leaders in arts and culture. An Award Committee, chosen by the Council for the Arts at MIT and comprised of arts leaders at MIT, then selects the recipient.

 

Eugene McDermott

The Award honors Eugene McDermott (1899-1973), cofounder of Texas Instruments and long-time friend and benefactor of MIT. The Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT was created by the Council for the Arts at MIT in 1974 and further endowed by Eugene’s wife, Margaret.

A geophysicist, Eugene McDermott was a member of the MIT Corporation from 1960 to 1973. The scholarship funds he established at MIT reflect his commitment to education and the public art he donated a conviction, shared with his wife Margaret, that the physical environment of a campus has great influence upon the character of an institution. They commissioned Eugene’s Stevens Tech classmate Alexander Calder to create The Great Sail, which was dedicated in 1966 on McDermott Court, facing the Green building. In 1976, the McDermott family and other friends of MIT made a gift of Three Piece Reclining Figure, Draped, by Henry Moore, which graces Killian Court.

Bill Viola uses video to explore the human phenomena of sense perception as a path that leads to self-knowledge. His work focuses on universal human experiences — birth, death, the unfolding of consciousness — and has roots in both Eastern and Western art.

Viola has exhibited at the world’s most prestigious museums and institutions, including at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Guggenheim Museum, New York; the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, which in 1997 organized an exhibition entitled Bill Viola: A 25-Year Survey.

Learn more about Bill Viola.

Past Events

Artist Presentation
March 9, 2009 / 6:30 pm
MIT Lecture Hall, MIT Building 10-250

MIT Tech Talk: Video artist Bill Viola to receive McDermott award

VideoLectures.net: An Evening with Video Artist Bill Viola

DandDN: Bill Viola at MIT

 

Bill Viola, Five Angels for the New Millennium, 2001. Credit: Kira Perov.
Bill Viola, Five Angels for the New Millennium, 2001. Credit: Kira Perov.