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After Powhatan’s Robe, Courtesy of Erin Genia.
After Powhatan’s Robe, Courtesy of Erin Genia.

June 5, 2019, 12:00 pm

Wiesner Student Art Gallery
MIT Building W20, 2nd Floor Opening

The Harold and Arlene Schnitzer Prize in the Visual Arts was established in 1996 through an endowment from Harold and Arlene Schnitzer of Portland, Oregon. Schnitzer, a real estate investor, graduated from MIT in 1944 with a degree in metallurgy.

The Schnitzer Prize is presented to current MIT students, undergraduate and graduate, for excellence in a body of artistic work. Students submit an artistic portfolio for consideration, and the generous endowment awards first place $5,000, second prize $3,000, third prize $2,000, and honorable mention $1,000. Recipients also have the opportunity to display their work in a joint exhibition in the Wiesner Student Art Gallery, located on the second floor of Stratton Student Center (W20).

First Prize: Guillermo Bernal G, Media Lab (Fluid Interfaces Group)
Second Prize: Erin Genia G, ACT
Third Prize: Emily Toomey , G,  Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Honorable Mention: Dipo Doherty, G, Integrated Design and Management

Second Prize: Erin Genia, Second Year Graduate Student in Art, Culture and Technology (ACT)

Erin Genia’s work explores the confluence of indigenous culture, sound, and memory. A veteran indigenous artist, Genia is a member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate tribe, part of the Sioux nation based in South Dakota. She introduced sound into her work during her two years at the Program in Art, Culture and Technology (ACT.)  “I was looking for a new way to express indigenous concepts and philosophy. I was drawn to sound because it is non-linear, which is often the way we tell our story,” says Genia.

Her work titled “Acoustic Tipi” features a seven-foot mahogany tipi decorated with indigenous images and equipped with four cow-hide drums. The piece was featured at last year’s Venice Architecture Biennale, and will remain on display at this summer’s Venice Biennale. Genia has also produced “Sound Vessels,” an installation of clay vessels that transmit a variety of sounds, including a heartbeat, boiling liquid mud, and Dakota phrases, via a multi-channel amplifier.

“Being at MIT exposed me to so many technologies I hadn’t had access to,” says the artist, who hopes to create a gallery space for indigenous art after she graduates.

From Arts at MIT