Student center exhibit to display murals from Senior House

Exhibit will run from Apr. 21 to May 7

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Murals at Senior House, now 70 Amherst Street, whose photographs are going to be exhibited in an exhibition called 'Murals of Senior Haus' at the Wiesner Student Art Gallery in the Student Center starting this weekend.
Courtesy of Paula Countouris

Starting this weekend, the Wiesner Student Art Gallery will present an exhibit titled Murals of Senior Haus. The exhibit will feature full-size prints and a virtual reality experience of murals that were painted in Senior House, MIT’s oldest dorm. A reception will be held on the evening of May 3.

Paula Countouris G, former Senior House resident and main organizer of the exhibit, explained to The Tech that the documentation of the murals started last summer while the closure of Senior House was underway.

“When things started to go south, I realized that no one was thinking about the murals,” Countouris said. “So I started the process of documenting all of them. About 30 or 50 people have had their hands in this project, including current students, alumni, and staff.”

Countouris explained that documentation took some time, mostly because of the sheer number of Senior House murals. “Since 1996, over 451 murals have been painted in Senior House,” she said. “There are ones in rooms, in suites, in stairwells and in bathrooms. They’re really using the internal architecture of the building in this phenomenal way that I don’t see in other places.”

Photographing murals, Countouris said, could be difficult at times because some murals were too large to be captured in a single frame. Fortunately, she received help from the Division of Student Life, among other groups.

Katy Gero ’13 also contributed to the effort. “I helped a lot with photography. It was pretty exhausting work that required a lot of attention to detail,” she wrote in an email to The Tech.

Although nearly all of the Senior House murals have been documented, only about 80 will be exhibited. Among those exhibited are two murals by Marlo Johnson ’19, who continues to paint outside of Senior House.

Johnson described murals as “a great and very necessary part of campus life” in an email to The Tech.

“There’s not a lot of clarity on what happened to cause Senior House to close,” Countouris said, “but the murals are tangible, and an extremely positive aspect of this community.”

“The murals were one of my favorite parts about Senior House,” Gero said. “There is something really special about being able to claim a space as your own, especially the common spaces, and especially in college when so much is transitory and feels out of your control. I think [the exhibit] is especially important to someone who has never visited Senior House. It’s a rare experience to get to immerse yourself in someone else’s community.”

Update 4/19/18: The article was updated to correct Katy Gero's last name. It should be Gero, not Garo. The photo caption was also updated. Senior House is now 70 Amherst Street, not 70 Amherst Alley.