Arts arts exhibit review

“Community Legacy” at The List

Elisa Hamilton’s piece encourages viewers to contemplate the mark they will leave on their community

Community Legacy

Artist Elisa Hamilton

List Visual Arts Center

Sept. 17, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

At the List Visual Arts Center, artist Elisa Hamilton created an interactive installation in order to inspire the MIT and local community. When I spoke with her, Hamilton was so full of energy and answered my questions with enthusiasm and sincerity that I could see filled her art as well as her life. Her work features a white, grid-like shelving unit, strips of translucent colored paper, and clear plastic boxes. The piece, titled “Community Legacy,” incorporates the viewer into its message by asking a simple question: “What will you leave behind?” Hamilton hopes the community will write their answers on the pieces of paper, which will then be folded and placed into a box for display. Viewers can write down transformative goals they have accomplished or hope to accomplish that would impact the community. A response can also be more poetic or simple such as “Love and laughter”.  

Hamilton’s inspiration for the piece was the List’s Student Loan Art Program’s generosity. This is a program in which over 600 pieces of professional art are lotteried off to MIT students to be enjoyed in their dorms for the year. The collection is impressive, with a range of styles and mediums from abstract paintings to street photography. Art is stacked four to five pieces high along the white walls. I was attracted to the large, colorful, and vibrant works such as Primavera by Amaranth Ehrenhalt. The lottery ends Sept. 17, but all the works can be viewed beforehand by students and the community at the List Visual Arts Center.

As an artist, Hamilton knows firsthand the value that living with a work of art can bring. Having the work in your home instead of just viewing it in a display breathes new meaning into the piece, as you experience it anew each day. According to Hamilton, “there is a sense of community ownership and responsibility with the piece” because the piece is loaned rather than bought. Consequently, there is a connection to all the folks who “owned” the piece in the past and a connection to MIT as well. Hamilton’s work is a brilliant idea but its impact hinges on community participation. An empty set of shelves leaves a poor impression on the viewer, so I encourage all to add their mark to the “Community Legacy.”

The artist herself will be there to exhibit her work this Sunday, Sept.17, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.. After this, the installation will be taken down and Hamilton will take each response and catalog it online to be shared with the entire community. Hamilton hopes that by the end of the exhibit, the shelves will be full of boxes detailing how individuals will impact their community. So if you find yourself near the List Visual Arts Center this Sunday, add your personal legacy to the wall and become a part in shaping our community.