Arts art gallery review

Wiesner Student Art Gallery revitalizes MIT’s art scene

Over 70 pieces of art now displayed in the Student Center until January

Jerome B. Wiesner Student Art Gallery
Curator: Sam Magee
Student Curator: Carmen Castaños G.
Stratton Student Center W20, Second floor
Re-Opening Reception: Nov. 16, 2016
Art Gallery on view from Nov. 2016 to Jan. 2017

Created in honor of former MIT president Jerome Wiesner, the Jerome B. Wiesner Student Art Gallery “was established as a place for students to express and exhibit their artistic endeavors, both academic and co-curricular” according to the gallery website. In the upcoming months, the renovated gallery will be showcasing outstanding artwork from members of the MIT Arts Scholars, a group of graduate and undergraduate students “with an exceptional interest in the arts” according to the Arts Scholars website. New Arts Scholars are selected once a semester through an application and interview process and many of them are practicing artists.

The Wiesner Gallery reopened this past Wednesday to the public, featuring over 70 pieces from 18 of the Arts Scholars. The organization of the gallery was spearheaded by curator and manager of MIT Student Arts Programs Sam Magee and student curator and Arts Scholar Carmen Castaños G. During his brief speech at the reception, Magee noted the wide spectrum of artwork that is displayed, with media ranging from watercolors to photography to oil paints to fabrics.

Such an eclectic assortment may seem incoherent, but the arrangement of the pieces gives the gallery a wholesome feeling. The individuality of each artist is reflected both through their artwork and through the words on their placards. This gallery is more than just a refurbished room — it has reinvigorated life in the arts program at MIT.

This re-opening was, according to Magee, was one of the more well-attended gallery receptions. It is not surprising that seeing works from peers would entice the community. Yet even more enticing is the available space for Arts Scholars to reserve for their own gallery displays. Slots for reservations have been closing fast since the Wiesner re-opening.

“I’ve always been able to find people interested in using the space,” Castaños said in an email to The Tech, “but in the past day since the opening, I’ve had as much interest as I usually get in six months and those who had reserved the space expecting the old one are very excited.”

Unsurprisingly, many of the Arts Scholars are appreciative of this new gallery.

“The renovation of the Weisner raised it from [an overlooked] study space in the Student Center to a gallery for fine art. As someone who has exhibited artwork in both the old and new space, I am so happy that this space has gotten a retrofit worthy of its mission,” Arts Scholar Rachel Osmundsen ’17 said.

Since the reopening, the atmosphere has shifted. Stepping onto the new hardwood floor through glass doors, I soaked in the aesthetic beauty of what now feels like a specialized room for student artwork. While reading through each artist placard at the reception, one stood out to me: Arts Scholar Holly Haney ’18 noted that she “is interested in making art, building communities, and connecting with people.”

Haney’s message exemplifies what the arts at MIT boils down to: human beings connecting with one another. The Institute’s stereotype with the public may still be centered around technology and science, but this gallery is a testament to the vitality of the arts and to the diversity of MIT’s students. The renovated Wiesner Student Art Gallery has become a space for students to express themselves through the arts and share their vision with the rest of the Institute.