The skies were varying shades of blue, and the trees were drawn in different shapes and colors. Some of the paintings were serene, while others were abstract, but all of them reflected the creativity of the MIT community.
The Office of the Chancellor and MindHandHeart sponsored a Paint Nite for MIT graduate students on Aug. 22 at The Thirsty Ear Pub. Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart and MindHandHeart Executive Administrator Maryanne Kirkbride provided opening remarks, informing students of their offices’ programs and services, such as the Accessing Resources Coalition, the MIT Student Support Hub, and the MindHandHeart Innovation Fund.
While the students enjoyed hors d'oeuvres and refreshments, a local art instructor led them in painting a tree against a sky background. The sold-out event was organized by the Graduate Student Council Activities Committee, and spearheaded by graduate students Shaiyan Keshvari, Mukund Gupta, and Xueying Zhao.
The student organizers were motivated to establish Paint Nites to provide their peers with an opportunity to unwind in a community setting.
“We love the space at The Thirsty and want to use it as much as possible,” Keshvari said. “I thought about what activities we could do that are fun, easy to run, and absolutely stress-free for participants. I’d heard about Paint Nites from a friend, and I thought we should try it out here.”
The first in a series of Paint Nites, the event appeared to be a success. “Some people are absorbed in their painting, some people are socializing, and it seems like everyone is having a good time, which was the goal,” said Keshvari.
Zhao added: “I think most MIT grad students are scientists and engineers, and this will help them to realize that they can also be artists. Everyone’s life needs some art and painting can be de-stressing. It’s not a competition and no one is judging your work — it’s just enjoyable.”
Graduate student Nicole Moody said of her painting: “It has sort-of evolved into a willow tree. When I was making the leaves some of the paint dripped down, so it looks like a fall scene. I’m here with four of my friends and we plan to hang our paintings along the staircase of our residence, so we can see our nice trees and remember this fun activity.”
Upcoming Paint Nites will be sponsored by the Office of the Vice Chancellor, the Office of Graduate Education, Community Wellness at MIT Medical, the International Students Office, and the Atlas Service Center.