The List Foundation Fellowships in the Arts for Students of Color have been awarded to two students for self-exploration projects which touch on Asian-related issues -- one a psychological and sociological video installation, and the other a synthesis of writing and visual arts that explores the importance and meaning of names.
Kevin Choi, a junior in management, received a fellowship to create a video project titled, "Asian Gay Men: Reflections of the AIDS Crisis." Helen Lee, a senior in architecture, will use her fellowship for a multimedia exploration of "The Origin of Names."
Mr. Choi hopes to veer from traditional documentary format and do something "new, interesting and provocative" that will "speak poetically about gay Asian men and how their lives change as a result of contracting the [AIDS] virus.
"As a gay Asian male, I know first hand how difficult it has been to deal with my family," Mr. Choi wrote. "I am interested in exploring the themes of anger, redemption and love."
Ms. Lee's project sprang from a family discussion about formal three-part Chinese names -- a family name, a name from a "book of names" which is handed down from generation to generation, and then a person's individual name.
This led her to question the significance of her own names and the fact that she has separate Chinese and English names. "How much of who you are is in your name?" she asked. "How many stories are behind a single class' roll list?"
Ms. Lee expects the challenge of her project to be combining her various artistic interests: writing, visual art and the architectural experience of being in a space. While she doesn't know yet what physical form her project will take, she plans to exhibit her work in a way that each individual can walk away with an "understanding of [names and origins], this most simple and profound common ground to all beings alike."
Established in 1992 with support from the Albert A. List Foundation, the List Fellowship annually awards up to $5,000 annually to two MIT students to support the year-long pursuit of a project in the performing, visual or literary arts, including a mentorship program to work with established artists of color.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on February 9, 2000.