A brief history of arts and activism at MIT
The Center for Advanced Visual Studies (1967-2010) hosted many artists who were involved in activism beginning with Otto Piene, whose youth spent as a conscripted soldier in Germany during WWII drove him to pioneer Sky Art as a way to reclaim the sky from the violence of war planes and bombs. Other artists including Juan Downey, Mel Chin, and Jenny Romaine came to the CAVS as fellows and research affiliates, continuing the legacy of activism in the center.
The legacy of these artists is upheld by current ACT students and faculty through their art, research, and performance.
“The blue sky had been a symbol of terror in the aerial war. It had meant flying weather, attacks by low-diving fighter planes and bombardments. . . We want to exhibit in the sky, not in order to establish there a new art world, but rather to enter new space peacefully—that is freely, playfully and actively, not as slaves of war technology.”
– Otto Piene, Artist’s statement, 1965.