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MIT Visual Arts Center: America Starts Here

By Christine M. Liu, Contributor, decor8

As a student of the media lab at MIT, I literally spend each day sitting on a goldmine. And that, dear friends, is the List Visual Arts Center, a gallery for contemporary art lovingly curated by Bill Arning, directed by Jane Farver, and coordinated by Hiroko Kikuchi. The List is located on campus, in the Weisner building E-15; if you’re in the vicinity you should stop by for the current exhibition America Starts Here, works by Kate Ericson and Mel Zeigler.

MIT Media Lab, Wiesner Building, Cambridge, MA

No one can describe their work better than Bill; however, I can introduce Zeigler and Ericson as a duo who focus on public works, giving new interpretations of everyday life, public space, history and memory, home and family, and the human experience. The works mostly approach the idea of american identity through domestic media like paint, glass, and construction materials. the house as home focus establishes the psychological space of safety, comfort, and ritual.

A favorite piece of mine incorporates a full set of china dinnerware that is elegantly decorated with gold flourishes and script letters. Only when you look closely do you realise that it’s not your typical fancy plating; the gilt words on the Dutch china spell out the names of industrial compounds from the central chemical factory in the origin town. It’s an amusing cognitive tingle, to imagine resting your dessert fork on the tetrachloronickelate lettered rim…

Camouflagued History, 1999

The strikingly painted house (the cover work for the exhibit) was produced in response to reinterpreting the colors defined by the neighborhood council to be acceptable for residences. The artists, in conjunction with the owner of the house, painted the exterior of the house with a camouflage pattern (a real design commissioned from the U.S. Army) composed from all the permissible colourings. The official names of the shades were printed as well, their descriptive names shedding a subtle dimension of the neighborhood and the intrinsic history embodied within.

The partnership of these two artists as lovers and as producers permeates the pieces with emotion and strength. An additional dimension to the exhibition is the fact that sadly, Ericson suffered from a brain tumor and passed away in 2005 (with Ziegler still alive today), giving a sense of her spirit finding new life in the exhibition of their work. More works from the exhibition:

Hollow Oak Our Palace Is, 1989

America Starts Here, 1988

I had a bit of a challenge finding some of their works documented online, though here is an feature that I found on one of their objects, Sift Before Measuring. Inside a dry sink, they placed numerous jars, each filled with flour and etched with the names of traditional american cake recipes.

And don’t forget the small room adjacent to the main gallery, which features an extensive slide presentation of more of their public works and performances. There’s even a picture of them dining on the Dutch dinnerware! :)

[photos above from LVAC]

Ballard Designs


Ballards recently redesigned their site, it’s a lot more user friendly; so much better organized. Although they’re a far cry from mid-century modern or even contemporary, you are bound to score a few winning gifts or accents for your home or office, especially since they carry random lamps and mirrors that would complement your modern space. I’ve ordered from them a number of times for clients since I’m a member of their designers program; I’m impressed with their fast shipping and overall style, plus they have some of the best mirrors around. In addition to their two storefronts in Georgia, they also have a outlet store in West Chester, Ohio. Has anyone been?

Some of my spring favorites from Ballards…

vintage shell prints
$79 each or $289 for set of 4
park avenue mirror
$249 buys you the good life
$35 each or $65 for the set
$19 for a set of 24
rouge and blanc print
$189
sea urchin and starfish candle holders
set of 2 starfish $25
or $39 for set of 3 sea urchins
macau arm chair available in black or cream
$249


TIP: If you are an Interior Designer, they’ll supply you with a product presentation binder and a very decent discount on all purchases. Click here for details.

On a budget? Don’t miss their estate sale!

(all photos above are from ballard designs)
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Posted in uncategorized on March 02, 2006

Dwell – New Bedding at Design Public!

New bedding from Dwell at Design Public! Clicky clicky for more!

(photo from the design public website. man, they have the best product shots!)

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Posted in uncategorized on March 02, 2006

Dutch By Design

Illuminate your life with these stylish lights from Dutch By Design. Muurbloem wallpaper circles in pink and green, both on sale for $85 each. The muurbloem wallpaper circles light in black and white is $140, and in shades of grey is $95. Lavish!

Arrive fashionably late thanks to these lively little timekeepers. Tiles clock $35, wallpaper circles $35, glass dots $29.50 and mixed numbers $110.

(photo credits: all photos from dutch by design)

Posted in Objects, shopping, travel on March 02, 2006

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