Does ice cream taste better when eaten from a spoon made from a cast of your own tongue?
Hope Ginsburg, winner of the top prize in the 2007 Harold and Arlene Schnitzer Prize in the Visual Arts, believes it does.
The graduate student in the Visual Arts Program won the $3,500 award for her "SPONGE" projects, which, she says, create a method of teaching and artistic research based on immersion, absorption and making connections. Her Campus Preview Weekend "SPONGE" workshop involved designing an ice cream flavor, learning how to make ice cream, making a cast of the participants' tongues, and crafting a spoon from their tongue molds with which to eat the ice cream.
"The project has given me a new way to explore methods of giving form to conceptual practice," Ginsburg wrote in her award application. "And it allows for an ongoing investigation of the way learning, teaching, performing and making constitute an artistic practice."
An exhibition of artwork from all the winners of this year's Schnitzer Prize will open at the Wiesner Student Art Gallery with a reception on Friday, May 25, from 5 to 7 p.m.
About 30 artists competed for the -prizes, which reward excellence in a body of work.
Two second prizes of $2,000 were awarded to architecture graduate students Katherine James, whose conceptual art, she says, "proposes a costuming of the everyday performance," and Neri Oxman.
With a dance-choreography and architecture background, James' work focuses on interests of the body, its habits, movements and dynamic sectional relationship to its surrounding structures. These interests have led to the design of clothing, textiles, accessories, furniture and spaces.
"In the 'everyday,' our bodies are equally performative and prescribed," said James, noting that one "cycles through the habits of life, performing the choreographies of domestic tasks, work habits, play, fitness training, transport."
James proposes a "costuming of the everyday performance, both to draw attention to its performativity, and to question and tweak the value systems at work in its choreography."
An honorable mention award of $1,000 went to Stephanie Hsu, a graduate student in architecture from Winter Park, Fla., for her photographs of Shanghai, China, which document the Lilong neighborhoods that were built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. "I seek to capture places in transition, especially ones in decay or destruction," wrote Hsu.
The Schnitzer Prize was established in 1996 by the Student Art Association through an endowment from Harold and Arlene Schnitzer of Portland, Ore. Schnitzer, a real estate investor, graduated from MIT in 1944 with a degree in metallurgy.
The Wiesner Student Art Gallery is located on the second floor of the Stratton Student Center and is open 24 hours a day.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 23, 2007 (download PDF).