Thirty-seven student artists submitted more than 200 works in the first annual competition for the Harold and Arlene Schnitzer Prize in the Visual Arts, surpassing the expectations of contest organizers at the Student Art Association (SAA). Submissions in the contest-designed to recognize artistic talent and creative concept through a body of work-ranged from conventional pencil drawings, photography and painting to glassblowing and digital imagery. Entrants-and even the three winners-ranged from freshmen to graduate students.
To honor the winning artists and celebrate the opening of an exhibition of their works, the SAA will hold a public reception on Wednesday, May 15, from 3-5pm in the Wiesner Student Art Gallery on the second floor of the Stratton Student Center.
Christopher Moore won first prize ($1,000) for his hand-blown glass. Mr. Moore, who plans to complete a PhD degree in physics this summer, first took up glass-blowing as an undergraduate in an IAP class. Explaining that his artistic work is inspired by the "simplicity and beauty of geometric coordinate systems in physics," Mr. Moore says that he uses the principles of physics to create designs which shift with changes of light or observational position.
Second place ($600) went to Brant Chamberlain, a junior in electrical engineering and computer science, whose series of plotter-printer printouts present dreamlike digitally photographed self-portraits in interaction with objects and ideas. "I see art as the first line of defense and diagnosis of society," Mr. Chamberlain said. "Artists give us immediate psychological feedback on the current state of our inner and outer lives."
Freshman Eto Otitigbe took third prize ($400) for a series of paintings celebrating the people, places, things and experiences that shaped his life as a young boy in Nigeria. "Art plays a very active role in my life," he said. "It aids me in maintaining balance and keeping focus. Art is a form of release. Most of all it defines me and tells of the many tales that I have been through."
The SAA established the awards through an endowment from Harold and Arlene Schnitzer of Portland, OR. Mr. Schnitzer, a real estate investor, graduated from MIT in 1944 with a degree in metallurgy. In addition to monetary prizes, a plaque inscribed with the names of each year's winning artists will be permanently installed on the wall of the Wiesner Gallery. The exhibition will run through June 14.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 15, 1996.