ping pong and cream puffs

With the busy schedule that comes with the many joys of being part of the MIT community, the “community” part of the deal becomes more of an abstraction sometimes if not actively sought. Students rarely find time to meet other students outside their own department or academic circles.  This has certainly been the case between History, Theory, and Criticism (HTC) and Art, Culture, and Technology (ACT) graduate students.

In an effort to change that, knowing the predictable truth that putting an HTC and ACT student together in a cultural venue would be the start of a potentially long-term bonding experience over intellectual debates, Angel Chen (ACT) and Jackson Davidow (HTC) drafted an initiative based on art and food.

Generously funded by a Graduate Student Life Grant, five outings have been planned as opportunities to enrich students’ exposure to various arts activities in the greater Boston area and beyond.
The first trip took place on Saturday, March 5th was a rather festive seven-hour-long Bostonian sprawl, discovering our unexpected, collective lust for ping pong, long walks in the cold and – most importantly – cream puffs.

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We started our afternoon by visiting the On Exactitude in Science exhibition at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. The show, guest curated by Dina Deitsch, features four artists—Jennifer Bornstein, Aslı Çavuşoğlu, Jumana Manna, and Elizabeth McAlpine—“who directly address the materiality of architectural surface to question means of representation.”

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Ping pong table in a sunny corner of the SMFA lobby. We all won.

Afterwards, we walked to the Boston Common Frog Pond. Some skated. Some took pictures and found refuge in surrounding cafés. The Boston cold is not for everyone.

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But Hot Pot is for everyone, and that’s what we had for dinner. It’s not as classy as we’re making it look in this picture, but that’s no big deal. Untangling burning hot Udon noodles over empty sake bottles is “bridging the gap and creating a greater sense of community among HTC and ACT students” at it’s best!

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Throughout the day, whether reading curatorial essays, playing ping pong or slipping in an impromptu shopping break, Angel was calmly, but surely, programming us into desiring “the best cream puffs ever” that were “at a bakery very close to where we were  having dinner,” so we massaged our sweet teeth with insanely delicious puffs, trespassing lactose intolerances and Lenten restrictions with the same seamlessness of that day’s trip.

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Future trips are planned to include visits to the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, the MASS MoCA, Peabody Essex Museum among others. Stay tuned for updates, links and more stories soon. Until then, have great conversations with new people and fill remaining emotional voids with cream puffs.
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