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List art lottery is a great opportunity for students

Student Art Loan

List Visual Arts Center.

Through Sept. 20.

Lottery held Sept. 21.

Ann Ames
Staff Reporter

The List Visual Arts Center offers much of its collection for loan to MIT undergraduate and graduate students. These works went on display on Tuesday in the Hayden Gallery of the Center, where they will remain until Sept. 20. During that time, all currently registered full-time students may browse the gallery and submit a registration card listing three ranked choices of pieces they would like to borrow for the school year. Student groups recognized by the Association of Student Activities and the Undergraduate Association may also apply for a loan. Loans will be awarded by lottery on Sept. 21, and all unchosen works will be distributed afterward on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Center's collection consists of over 300 signed prints, posters, and photographs by contemporary artists, including Miro, Warhol, Wegman, Abbott, and many others. Ron Platt, assistant curator of the List Visual Arts Center, described "contemporary" as more a definition of style than of time period, though with few exceptions the artists represented in the collection are living. Pieces are chosen for their relation to modern social, political, and philosophical issues.

This does not mean that every work is steeped in grave and weighty "meaning"; some, such as a photo by Wegman, are plainly ridiculous. Though it may sound to the snobby ear a degradation of an important art collection, there truly seems to be something for everyone. And even the silly may lead to the sublime. As Platt says, "Maybe somebody comes because they say, Oh, I need something for my wall,' but then they see what's here and start to think about it." Each piece carries a label on the back of its frame which describes the work, and additional information is available to anyone who asks for it.

The loan program began in 1966 with the Catherine N. Stratton collection. After a hiatus in the early 1970s, the program was reinstated in 1977 when Vera List donated 100 posters to the collection. Since the mid-1980s the List Center, with additional support from the Student Activities Committee, has acquired several new pieces each year, bringing the collection's total to more than 300 artworks. New works are displayed for a year on the third floor of the Student Center, after which they take their places in the main collection and become available for loan.

The display is well worth a visit to the gallery, aside from the potential of receiving a work of art to hang in your room for the year. Although designed as a simple rectangular space, the room is set up for an upcoming exhibit, "Critical Mass," marking the fiftieth anniversary of the detonation of the first atomic bomb. The temporary internal walls give some definition to what might otherwise be an onslaught of unrelated images, and enable a novelty that Platt refers to as "the 60s room," a sub-group of psychedelia that gets its own place within the larger main hall.

Apparently, the program is popular even outside of MIT. After delivering a talk recently at the Museum of Fine Arts, Platt was informed by two members of the audience that "our favorite show is the big print show in September." They asked him if the Center would do that show again this year. Fortunately for the students of MIT, it will.

For more information regarding the student art loan, call the List Visual Arts Center at 253-4400 or stop by the Hayden Gallery on the first floor of building E15.