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Talks to begin again on art project

The Office of the Arts and the List Visual Arts Center have resumed planning for a proposed sculpture project in the Stratton Student Center by Cambridge artist Mags Harries.

Overseen by Maureen Costello, director of special programs in the Office of the Arts, and Katy Kline, director of the List Visual Arts Center, the project will actively seek the input and involvement of MIT students, faculty and staff through a series of four public meetings, the first of which will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 23 from 6-7:30pm in the Mezzanine Lounge of the Student Center (W20-307). Refreshments will be served, and students are especially encouraged to attend.

The public meetings will mark the recommencement of efforts that began in early 1990, when a proposal by Ms. Harries of a sculpture for the Student Center using the medium of human hair generated controversy and debate over the work of art itself and the Institute's planning process for public art.

The new proceedings will "start from square one," says Ms. Costello, and are designed to foster a dialogue between Ms. Harries and the MIT community that will lead to a mutually agreed-upon design concept. Following the series of public meetings, an advisory board made up of MIT students, faculty and staff will meet with Ms. Harries and the project leaders to discuss, review, and eventually sign-off on a proposed work of art. Installation of a work is tentatively scheduled for September 1993.

A sculpture for the Student Center has been proposed under MIT's "one percent for the arts" policy, whereby one percent of the budget for any new building or major renovation work goes to fund the creation of art work for the site. Best known for public arts works including The Glove Cycle at the Porter Square T Station, artist Mags Harries was chosen two years ago to create a work for the then newly renovated Stratton Student Center by a committee made up of members from the List Visual Arts Center, the Campus Activities Complex, and various organizations within the Student Center. Harries is anxious to launch new discussions about the project, Ms. Costello said, and looks forward to working closely with students and other members of the MIT community over the coming months.

The September 23 meeting will be introduced by Ellen Harris, associate provost for the arts, and led by Ms. Kline and Ms. Costello. The discussion will address the general question of "What is Public Art?;" explanations of MIT's public art policies, procedures, and responsibilities; and information on the process by which Mags Harries was selected.

The second meeting will be held Thursday, October 8, from 4:30-6:30 in The 20 Chimneys Lounge of the Stratton Student Center (W20-306).

A version of this article appeared in the September 16, 1992 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 37, Number 5).

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