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Levine heads Visual Arts Program

By Andrea Lamberti

The Visual Arts Program in the Department of Architecture, whose resources and available courses have been waning during the past few years, has hired a new director to revitalize the program.

Professor Edward Levine, the new director of visual arts, has been brought on this year to build a visual arts program for undergraduates. Levine has a master's degree in art and a doctorate in the history of art from New York University. Before coming to MIT, Levine was dean of the School of Art at East Carolina University. He has also held academic appointments at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and Wright State College.

Levine's appointment is the result of a search for a person to reinvigorate the visual arts program, according to John de Monchaux, dean of the School of Architecture and Planning.

In March 1988, the Department of Architecture created a committee to find a head for the visual arts program. That committee, led by Associate Professor David H. Friedman, was formed in response to criticism of the program by the Ad Hoc Committee to Review the Arts at MIT in November 1987. Based on the declining resources and classes available in the program, the Ad Hoc Committee, chaired by Professor Paul L. Joskow, made a recommendation to Provost John M. Deutch '61 that the waning trend be reversed.

Deutch "promised his support and asked the Department of Architecture to put together a plan to implement reinvigoration" of the visual arts program, de Monchaux said. Friedman chaired the committee to formulate a plan for the program, which later asked Levine to be director of visual arts.

Deutch also agreed to create the new post of associate provost for the arts. Ellen T. Harris, musicologist and soprano, has filled his new position this fall. She is also a professor of music.

The revitalization of the visual arts program is underway, according to Levine. "We're trying to construct a program for undergraduates," Levine said yesterday, "for both concentrators in Visual Arts, and people who just want to take visual studies courses."

The focus of the visual arts program is twofold. The visual arts courses will introduce students to how artists think, Levine said. The courses will also relate "to how people think in other disciplines," he said. He said he also wants students to explore the nature of artistic experience and how it may differ from other kinds of experiences.

The object of the program is not to make the students artists, but to introduce them to the thought processes behind artistic endeavors. The courses will introduce "the different ways of thinking and experiences that artists have" and relate them to what artists do, Levine said.

Levine is currently teaching six sections of visual arts classes. The plan, according to de Monchaux, is to increase the number of courses to 12 or 14 courses per semester. Right now the only limitation is space for the classes. The space will determine how many courses can be offered. When the number of courses can be increased, the department plans to hire more permanent faculty to teach visual arts.