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Art in MIT Libraries: Second Floor

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Use this menu to explore the art in this guide by Library, floor location, and medium. 

Welcome to the Guide

Photography

Untitled (Black Man) (2013), captures a young man in three-quarter profile, shirtless, head lifted up, gaze not meeting the camera; he appears to be crying.

Untitled (Black Man) by Shikeith

2013, Giclée print, 17 1/4 x 13 5/8 in.

Purchased with funds from MIT and Friends of Boston Art

In his photographs, films, and sculptures, Shikeith probes the social and historical conditions that inform Black masculinity and sexuality in the United States. His intimate portraits and experimental films document the experiences of his Black male subjects and, in the artist’s words, seek to “reveal the bigoted, historical influences that control the ways contemporary black males psychologically view themselves and each other.”

Untitled (Black Man) (2013), captures a young man in three-quarter profile, shirtless, head lifted up, gaze not meeting the camera; he appears to be crying. The dramatic classicism of this black and white portrait, and the subject’s implied nudity, reference the complicated legacy of Robert Mapplethorpe’s erotic and exoticizing photographs of Black men. Whereas Mapplethorpe’s images have been widely critiqued for their objectifying nature, Shikeith’s photograph tenderly captures the model in a moment of emotional vulnerability. Untitled (Black Man) belongs to a series of portraits Skikeith made around the time he was working on #BlackMenDream (2014), an experimental documentary that weaves together the responses of nine Black men to the artist’s questions about their lived experience and childhood memories, as well as how they relate to their masculinity and to other Black men.

 

 

 

25 black & white images of women shown in a 5x5 grid

Notations by Lorna Simpson

2008, Pigment print, 34 1/4 x 28 1/4 in.

Purchased with funds from Eliot Wolk, and the Student Center Preview Program

A pioneer of conceptual photography, artist Lorna Simpson first became known for her photographic installations of the early 1990s that combined stark studio images of Black figures, whose faces are deliberately obscured or facing away, with engraved plastic placards bearing simple phrases and words. Through their evocative and confrontational combinations of language and image, Simpson’s works offer up poignant and open-ended reflections on gender, race, identity, and representation.

Since the late 1990s, Simpson has also made work in film and video, using snippets of dialogue in tandem with clever framings of figures in a way that corresponds to her groundbreaking photographic installations. The black-and-white images that form the gridded composition of this work feature mostly women of color and are drawn from Simpson’s early films, including Call Waiting (1997) and Duet (2000). While the cinematic quality of these images is apparent, their relatively small and uniform size recalls a group of 4x6-inch snapshots. The work’s title, Notations, alludes to a group of symbols that create a system of communication, and by reframing her moving images as intimate documents, Simpson offers up a matrix of lived experience or interpersonal drama captured in moments of conversation or private thought.

 

Woman dressed in costume reaches hand to 2 men in costume, huggingDido #6 by Tina Barney

2001, C-print on paper, 28 1/4 x 34 1/4 in.

Purchased with funds from Eliot Wolk, and the Student Center Preview Program

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

light-skinned elderly woman looks down at model airplaneBobbi, 83, Detroit, MI by Jess T. Dugan

2014, Pigment print, 30 1/2 x 24 in.

Purchased with funds from MIT and Friends of Boston Art

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Japanese men, in soldiers' uniforms look at the camera. One man is sitting, with a sword in his hand.

Untitled (NSEW 4) by Bruce Yonemoto

2007, Digital on paper, 34 x 28 in.

Purchased with funds from the Student Center Preview Program.

Working in photography, sculpture, installation, and the moving image, Japanese-American artist Bruce Yonemoto takes a critical eye to mass media and its enculturating effects on personal identity. Early works made in collaboration with his brother Norman Yonemoto borrow tropes—especially romance and desire—from television advertisements, soap operas, and Hollywood films to highlight their absurdity.

Untitled (NSEW 4) belongs to a series of photographs titled North South East West that emerged from Yonemoto’s interest in historical representations of Asian Americans and his research into records of soldiers of Asian descent who served in both Union and Confederate armies in the Civil War, yet were largely omitted from official accounts. Seeking to counter this historical erasure, Yonemoto appropriates the staid conventions of Civil War portrait photography in these works. In Untitled (NSEW 4), two Asian-American male models pose rigidly, their serious countenances directly regarding the camera. The pair are outfitted in soldiers’ uniforms and weapons that Yonemoto rented from vintage Hollywood studio supplier Western Costume, whose collection also costumed soldiers in D.W. Griffith’s brazenly racist 1915 silent feature The Birth of a Nation (a film that glorified and renewed interest in the white supremacist hate group, the Ku Klux Klan). Calling attention to Hollywood’s artifice alongside its historical consequences, Untitled (NSEW 4) speaks to issues of representation, reenactment, and collective memory that continue to resonate today.

 

A light-medium skinned woman stands in a snow-covered street, wearing a fur coat and looking at the camera, smiling

Gloria, 70, Chicago, IL by Jess T. Dugan

2016, Pigment print, 30 1/2 x 24 in.

Purchased with funds from MIT and Friends of Boston Art

Mixed Media

A person sitting by a window, smoking a cigarette. The window curtain is pulled back to reveal the words "LET'S HAVE A TALK"

Let's Talk by Adrian Piper

1992, Five-color serigraph on Lennox, 100 28 x 28 x 1 1/2 in.

Purchased with funds from the Alan May Endowment

Adrian Piper is a conceptual artist and an analytic philosopher who works across a variety of media including drawing, painting, photography, video, and performance. In the early 1970s, Piper developed a pioneering series of performances that embedded the artist’s experience of race and gender into the strategies of Conceptual art. As part of The Mythic Being (1973–1975), Piper, a white-passing woman of African-American descent, dressed in an Afro wig, round sunglasses, and fake moustache and walked the streets of New York City while smoking a cigarette and reciting passages from her teenage diary. Piper was interested in the Mythic Being’s performance of masculinity (“I swagger, stride, lope […] sit with my legs wide apart on the subway, so as to accommodate my protruding genitalia”) in spite of the visible artifice of Piper’s wig and moustache. Her alter ego’s racial ambiguity also posed questions of identity and appropriation (by the early 70s, the Afro, an icon of Black radicalism and Black pride, had already been adopted as style by people of non-African descent).

Piper documented public performances of The Mythic Being with photographs and video, but the related body of work also includes photographs, newspaper ads featuring images of Piper as the Mythic Being augmented with speech bubbles containing snippets of the mantras drawn from her journals, and oil crayon drawings, such as Let’s Talk, which was reissued as part of a portfolio of screenprints in 1992. Piper’s words implicate the viewer in the dynamic of her performances with a direct address that is a hallmark of her work.

 

 

Shows a circular cutout of an encyclopedia page overlaid with figures from pop culture and history, including stenciled Looney Tunes characters, boxers Muhammad Ali and Sonny Liston, and Fidel Castro.

Looney Mandala (from Histories, Libraries, and Mythologies series) by Tavares Strachan

2014, Digital pigment, silkscreen thread, 21 1/2 x 21 1/2 in.

30th Anniversary Print Portfolio

Bahamas-born conceptual artist Tavares Strachan works across a variety of media, including sculpture, installation, photography, video, and, more recently, painting and drawing. Encyclopedia of Invisibility (2018), which the artist began in 2014, consists of a series of prints, paintings, drawings, text-based neon sculptures, and a 2,400-page encyclopedia of entries composed of research into histories, individuals, and events that have been underrepresented or omitted from history.

Looney Mandala (2015) emerged from Strachan’s early research for this series and features a circular cutout of an encyclopedia page overlaid with figures from pop culture and history, including stenciled Looney Tunes characters, boxers Muhammad Ali and Sonny Liston, and Fidel Castro. Their incongruous presence amid a constellation of alpha numeric characters asks the viewer to forge their own connections. The work’s title and circular composition reference the mandala, a geometric diagram that, in Indian Buddhist and Hindu traditions, represents the universe in its completion—an analog for the encyclopedia’s aim. While Strachan’s overarching project with Encyclopedia of Invisibility seeks to correct biases of Eurocentrism and white supremacy in establishing hierarchies of knowledge, this work offers a speculative and meditative take on the task of cataloguing and interpreting the past.

 

 

There are numbers in the background of the image. Some of the numbers have pink lines around them. In the foreground is a car that shows a landscape with several houses on green land.Lotto: The American Dream by Luis Crus Azaceta

1992, Nine-color serigraph on Lennox, 100 28 x 28 x 1 1/2 in.

Purchased with funds from the Alan May Endowment

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shows yellow paper Record Retrieval Request Forms along with different rubrics, also on paper.

Rubrics by Julia Weist

2020, Archival pigment print on cotton rag, 30 x 39 5/8 in.

Gift of Seth Stolbun and The Stolbun Collection LLC in collaboration with the Artist in recognition of Ron Clark, who received no A's, mostly B's and some C’s. 

Weist created Rubrics during a municipal artist residency program that placed her within New York City's Department of Records and Information Services, home of the NYC Municipal Archives. While in residence, she developed an artistic and bureaucratic process designed to ensure that the artworks she made onsite would be classified as official government records. Using only equipment owned by the city—cameras, lights, computers—Weist was assisted by agency employees during their regular work day. As a result, it is now legally required that the artworks be maintained by city government and made available permanently to the public. Digital versions of the works were also subject to the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) and in spring 2020 Rubrics was released in response to a FOIL request. (The request can be viewed here). Rubricsis an edition of 3; the first print of the edition is owned by the City of New York.  

 

medium-skinned person wearing grey button-up shirt. There are rectangular punch marks on the image, in the shape of a name tag. One of the rectangles has been punched out. It is red and says "HELLO my name is"Hello by Paul Ramírez Jonas

2012, Silkscreen on paper, 26 3/4 x 21 in.

Commissioned to celebrate of the legacy of Vera G. List and the founding of the Vera List Art Project at Lincoln Center in 1962, MIT's List Visual Arts Center in 1985, and the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School in 1992. Purchased with funds from the Alan May Endowment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Front page of the New York Times for July 5, 2012. Photos have been replaced with artwork. In one, a group of adult clap and celebrate as swirls of color surround above their heads.July 5, 2012 by Fred Tomaselli

2012 Digital print with silkscreen 19 x 15 1/4 in.

Commissioned to celebrate of the legacy of Vera G. List and the founding of the Vera List Art Project at Lincoln Center in 1962, MIT's List Visual Arts Center in 1985, and the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School in 1992. Purchased with funds from the Alan May Endowment.

Prints

Etching of a dark-skinned woman by a bowl of fruit

Woman by Benny Andrews

1977, Etching, 26 x 20 in.

Purchased from President's Discretionary Fund

Born in rural Georgia during the Jim Crow era, painter, activist, and educator Benny Andrews learned draughting skills from his father and later studied painting at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. There, he developed a signature technique that incorporated found fabric and paper into his figurative oil paintings, furnishing his expressive canvases with elements from his everyday environment.

Portraiture was central to Andrews’s practice and can be seen in his tender depictions of family members, friends, or fellow artists Alice Neel, Howardena Pindell, and Ray Johnson. In the late 1970s, Andrews staged a two-part exhibition of portraits at the Lerner-Heller Gallery titled Women I’ve Known, which presented a group of paintings that, as the artist wrote, “come from my close association with women I have known, real and imagined.” With hands folded on a kitchen table near a plate of fruit and a serious countenance, the unnamed figure in this intaglio etching from 1977, is likely related to this body of work. In celebrating his female peers in these works, Andrews acknowledged that beginning in art school he’d observed, “women were the most involved with the things we call ‘art,’ and yet the least respected.”

 

 

 

 

 

Abraham Lincoln statue sitting in a pedestal. The work starts at the bottom of his chin, cutting off the top of his face. There is a flag to the left, on the pedestal, which has "Abraham Lincoln" written across it. The print is in blues, greens, yellows, reds and grays.

Untitled (from The Amnesty International USA Portfolio) by Francis Ruyter

2002, IRIS print, 35 x 27 1/2 in.

Purchased with funds from the Student Center Preview Program.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Words and phrases about power written down. Some are circled, and some have arrows pointing to other words and phrases. The top of the list says "Power," followed by "supremacy." some phrases are "Mover and Shaker" and "Master of the Universe"Power by Mel Bochner

2010, Two-color etching with aquatint on paper, 33 5/8 x 26 3/8 in.

Purchased with funds from Gerald Appelstein, Brit d'Arbeloff, Karen & Greg Arenson, Rhea Cohen, Lindsay & Charlie Coolidge, Karen Ho, Mindy Home & Drew Katz, Hyun-A Park & Jacob Friis, John & Cynthia Reed, Sara-Ann & Robert Sanders, and Toby L. Sanders.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blue and purple wave lines background with the phrase "We the People" written in yellow letters over it. The "We" is a larger font size than the rest of the phrase.We the People by Jeremy Deller and Fraser Muggeridge

2020 Giclée print 15 x 15 in.

Purchased with funds from MIT and Friends of Boston Art

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image of a horse drawn in white on a black background with extra scribbles over the horse. At the top is a nose drawn in above the horseNose on a White Horse by William Kentridge

2010, Aquatint on paper, 18 x 16 in.

Purchased with funds from the Alan May Endowment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image of three humans or beings. The arms and legs are more fluid than a human's. The three beings overlap each other. The left and rightmost beings are win white on a yellow background. The middle one is black on the same background.I by Jason Musson

2019 Giclée print 14 1/2 x 17 in.

Purchased with funds from MIT and Friends of Boston Art

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four pointed quadrangles touch points in the center of the work to look like petals of a flower. The colors of the "petals" from top left to bottom left are: turquoise, grey, red, and light pink.Flower by Odilli Donald Odita

2020 Giclée print 15 x 15 in.

Purchased with funds from MIT and Friends of Boston Art

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A man rests his hand above his mouth. In the top left the words read "I see before me words you should not have written"Untitled (I See Before Me) by Raymond Pettibon

2002 Lithograph 23 1/4 x 18 1/4 in.

Purchased with funds from the Alan May Endowment