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MIT staffer makes time for creativity

Janni Moselsky-Hansen, artist and administrative assistant in the architecture department, relaxes near her Hyannisport home.
Janni Moselsky-Hansen, artist and administrative assistant in the architecture department, relaxes near her Hyannisport home.
Photo / Jeffrey Hansen

First of an occasional series featuring MIT staff members who are practicing artists.

Janni Moselsky-Hansen is a busy woman. In addition to her job as administrative assistant in the Department of Architecture, she creates beaded jewelry, enjoys dancing and singing, hosts MIT students at her Cape Cod home, sketches scenes on the Cape for a line of greeting cards, and still finds time for her husband and two spoiled cats.

The fruit of many of her creative endeavors can be seen this Sunday, Sept. 18, when Moselsky-Hansen will be participating in ArtsCentral 2005, an event being held in Central Square, Cambridge.

That's where she will be selling her greeting cards and handmade beaded "healing" jewelry. Moselsky-Hansen's beaded jewelry incorporates mystical and healing elements found in numerology and Native American culture with semi-precious gems, beads, glass, sea-glass and recycled items. She will also hold a small stringing workshop, demonstrating how to create such bracelets and necklaces.

What Moselsky-Hansen doesn't do is watch much television or get much sleep. She dismisses television as a "hypnotically humming waste of time" and claims that a mere five hours of sleep per night is her average.

So how does she fit it all in? It helps, she says, that much of her life centers around MIT, where she is also a writer, a committee member for Artists Behind the Desk, and a member of MIT Community Players.

Moselsky-Hansen can often be found at the Institute until 11 p.m. During working hours, she carefully oversees the budget for studio and related expenses in the design group in architecture. Then it's off to meet her writing buddies in the Stata Center or to rehearse with the MIT Community Players.

And she can be in two places at once -- almost. Tuesday through Friday, she lives in Cambridge, and Saturday through Monday she lives on Cape Cod with her husband and cats. Her bus commute allows for at least two hours of writing on her iBook.

Her favorite gatherings are big dinner parties at the house on the Cape. And while Moselsky-Hansen says she loves to cook, she leaves the kitchen artistry to her husband and to the students and guests who wish to take over.

"I love the students' energy," she says, flipping her red braid over her shoulder. "MIT students are the driving force that makes this a place where there is enthusiasm for learning and discovery."

No doubt being able to share her home with students stuck at school over the holidays appeals to Moselsky-Hansen, who lived in nine different foster homes from the age of 5 through 21.

A sad tale, yet the resourceful artist has been turning those years into art through her writing. She has kept journals since the age of 10, and her memoir, "Dear Jay...Siblings Separated in Foster Care," is nearing completion.

For now, she says, MIT offers all the comfort of home -- and more. "This is a great community to be working and living in. I believe I'll live longer and healthier if I just keep creating and looking for new things to do!"

Moselsky-Hansen's ArtsCentral table will be located on Temple Street in Central Square in Cambridge on Sunday, Sept. 18, from noon to 6 p.m. For more information, visit

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 14, 2005 (download PDF).

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