Back To School With Original Art

By Mary Tinti

Photo credit LVAC website.

September 6, 2012

Those of you who went to college in the late 1990s like me may remember certain ubiquitous staples of dorm room décor. International flags, hippie tapestries and concert posters were the cement wall camouflage of choice. It was common to see these trophies hung side by side with a reproduction of Salvador Dalí’s “Persistence of Memory,” Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” a drawing by M.C. Escher, or clever magazine adverts for Absolut Vodka.

My own room was a bit nerdier. I seem to recall hanging a poster that featured various windows of Florence and another that detailed the historic monuments of Ireland. I also may or may not have had an Alanis Morissette poster dressing up my closet door.

Oh, what my eighteen year old self wouldn’t give for a chance to hang an original piece of artwork beside my bed, just as my undergraduate mind was awakening to the joys of fine art!

For students at MIT, it’s not such a wild dream. Thanks to a beloved, decades-strong Student Loan Art Program, MIT co-eds are eligible for a lottery whose sole purpose is to match over 500 students with a work of art from the Institute’s special trove culled from the Catherine N. Stratton Collection of Graphic Arts, the List Student Loan Collection, and the Ronald A. Kurtz Student Loan Collection. The lucky students get to jazz up their dorm rooms with framed photographs, prints and other works on paper by the likes of Alexander Calder, Harold "Doc" Edgerton, Roy Lichtenstein, Cindy Sherman, Andy Warhol, and many, many more. The number of available artworks grows by several pieces annually, thus increasing a student’s chances of scoring an art loan and ensuring an influx of contemporary art for future borrowers to enjoy.

But you don’t have to be a student at MIT to peruse this cool collection or dream about which of these artworks you would select to keep you company all year long. For two weeks every fall, the entire inventory goes on public display in advance of the lottery; all are invited to channel their inner undergrad and imagine the perfect artwork in front of which to study, sleep, and successfully complete another two semesters of college life. Much more than mere decorations, these artworks symbolize the importance of creativity, the symbiosis of art and science, the relevance of art history, and the countless benefits of a well-rounded life.

This year’s MIT List Visual Arts Center’s Student Loan Art Program exhibition will take place from September 4th -16th. Don’t miss this fun way to honor the back-to-school season!

Which work of art would you choose?

Student Art Loan Program Exhibition
September 4-16, 2012
MIT List Visual Arts Center
20 Ames Street, Bldg. E15
Atrium level
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139

LVAC Gallery Hours
12 pm - 6pm DAILY during this two week period


About the Author
Mary Tinti Mary Tinti
Mary is a Koch Curatorial Fellow at the DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum. On her blog, Dress For Sports, she says, "I love innovative public art, creative design, and unique intersections of architecture, sculpture, and installation.  And I love stumbling upon cool collisions of art and everyday life." Mary has a Ph.D. in art history from Rutgers University.


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