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MIT Support Staff Showcase Talents

By JenniferChung
Staff Reporter

The third semi-annual "Artists Behind the Desk"Series commenced last Friday with a musical performance by pianist Nicholas Altenbernd, administrative secretary in the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies, and the opening of a new exhibition of artwork at the Compton Gallery by MIT support staff members.

From Oct. 3 to Nov. 14, various performances, readings, and the Compton exhibition will be open to the public, demonstrating the artistic abilities of approximately 35 of the 1,200 members ofMIT's support staff.

"The series spotlights people we see every day and lets them demonstrate artistic talents which would otherwise be hidden," said Lisa J. Feltner, financial administrator in the Department of Earth, Atmosphere, and Planetary Sciences.

Feltner is a member of the Working Group on Support Staff Issues, which in part sponsors the event, as well as a member of the ArtistsTask Force, a subset of the Working Group.

Altenbernd's concert was the first in a series of musical displays, open to the public, to be held at noon in Killian Hall. Although performers tended to be instrumentalists in the past, there is a large number of singers this year.

In addition to music performances, this is the first time that dance performances have been incorporated into the series. A large audience turnout at a recent dance performance suggested that this artistic medium would be used again in future incarnations of the event, Feltner said.

Series may become annual

In fact, the Working Group's Artists Task Force hopes to make the "Artists Behind the Desk" series an annual phenomenon. The series was conceptualized nearly a decade ago, with the first performance in 1989, and the second in 1994.

The original 1989 series mainly featured visual arts, such as photographs and paintings. Music and readings appeared in the 1994 sequel project to the original series and dance was added this year. In the future, annual manifestations of the series may focus on one specific art area, alternating yearly.

A major component of the series is the juried exhibition of staff work at the Compton Gallery. A reception at theCompton Gallery, located between Lobbies 10 and 13, on the opening Friday showcased the exhibition, which features 13 artists' works.

The series is presented with the help of the MIT Council for the Arts, the MITMuseum, the Music and Theatre Arts Department, and the Working Group on Support Staff Issues.