Nearly every month since 2011 MIT has hosted a “Choose-to-Reuse” event in the Stata Center lobby, sponsored by the Department of Facilities, Sustainability@MIT, and Green. During the event, community members donate and trade unwanted items. The overarching goal is to promote a culture of recycling and reducing waste. This year they are giving the program an arts-spin by collaborating with sculptural artist Kyle Haines. Haines will repurpose items from Choose-to-Reuse, as well other items found at MIT, into MIT-themed sculptures. His final pieces will be displayed on campus during Earth Week this coming April. He will begin collecting goods at the next Choose-to-Reuse event this Friday. He caught up with The Tech to explain his motives behind the project and how art can relate to the MIT community.
The Tech: Can you tell us more about the sculpture you are planning? What is a crowd-sourced sculpture, and what does it mean to you?
Kyle Haines: I’m going to try to keep the designs of the sculptures under wraps for now, but I can tell you that the “crowd-sourced” sculpture will show something that I have found to completely embody the MIT culture. A crowd-sourced sculpture is something completely new to me. I see it as an interesting challenge and a sort of artsy time capsule. Any MIT affiliate can head over to a Choose-To-Reuse event before April and if they donate a specific item to be used in the sculpture I have to use at least part of it.
TT: Have you done anything similar before? What inspired you?
KH: Almost all of my art is centered around some sort of recycled or reused material. I particularly love and usually use antique metal odds and ends. However, I’ve never come close to tackling a project like this. As a junk artist, I was excited by all of the stuff that goes through the Choose-To-Reuse program, and I really wanted to find a way to use the less-than-desirable material that sometimes pops up. So, here we are!
TT: Do you think engineers – or broadly MIT students – can learn from art? How?
KH: I don’t know if everyone can learn something from art, but I think just about everyone can benefit from it. Art can help you to see the world more clearly, it can expose a new side of something you thought you already understood, it can invite you into an entirely different state of mind. You’re not going to have an epiphany every time you see a Picasso, but there are many things that even the most brilliant engineer might glean from a visit to a museum.
TT: How can a community can reduce its waste and be more energy conscious? Why is this important to you?
KH: That is a loaded question, and I’m nowhere near an expert on the subject. My initial thought is to tell people to buy more sustainable goods, to learn how to fix things, and to repurpose instead of throwing out. I know that’s idealistic, and pretty loosely stated, but it’s the best I’ve got.
TT: How did you connect with MIT?
KH: My girlfriend is a junior here, so I’ve visited quite a lot in the past few years. The community here has really pulled me in. The people are so wonderful and I always enjoy the trip.
TT: The sculptures will be MIT themed. If you don’t mind divulging, what kinds of themes do you expect to explore?
KH: My hope is to make all of the sculptures MIT friendly, using either direct references to MIT culture or somewhat loose connections to science, technology, and the like. I’m not completely settled on everything that will be made, and I do want to try and keep things somewhat secret until April, but I can give you some information: should all go well, the show will involve a whale, The Tech, computer cases, comic book art, and an old shirt.
You can donate items to Haines’ sculpture at the next Choose-To-Reuse event, Friday, Dec. 13, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Stata Center TMSC lobby, by the mirror sculpture on the first floor.