STEPHANIE MITCHELL


PHOTOGRAPHY


PORTRAITS OF HARVARD


Amanda Gorman, the first ever Youth Poet Laureate of the United States of America, pauses along the Charles River, where the poet finds inspiration during her years as an undergraduate student at Harvard University.

Benjamin Grimm, who recently graduated with a degree in the comparative study of religion with a secondary degree in German and Scandinavian studies, demonstrates one of his many talents that include photography, musical theater, and ballet, which he began studying at the age of 10.

Claire Dickson was homeschooled before coming to Harvard. She is pictured on Harvard Ave, near her Medford home.




Amanda Gorman (from top), Benjamin Grimm, and Claire Dickson at Harvard University.



Stephen Greenblatt — winner of both a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award for “The Swerve: How the World Became Modern” — teaches in the Department of English at Harvard University.

A Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor Joseph Nye, known for coining the term “soft power,” was dean of Harvard Kennedy School from 1995 to 2004.

Pamela Silver, the Elliot T. and Onie H. Adams Professor of Biochemistry and Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School, strolls through Arnold Arboretum.

The distinguished journalist and author, political commentator, and longtime op-ed columnist E.J. Dionne taught and lectured as the William H. Bloomberg Visiting Professor at Harvard Divinity School.




Harvard Professors Stephen Greenblatt, (clockwise from left), Joseph Nye, Pamela Silver, and E.J. Dionne.

HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT






VES thesis students dive deep in the Linden Street studios


Utopian worlds, sign-language poetry, and DNA origami — the subjects are as fascinating and varied as the students who explore them.

Along a small street in the heart of Harvard Square, Visual and Environmental Studies (VES) students are busy at work on their thesis projects in the Linden Street studios.

Converted from squash courts in 1999, the centrally located spot offers students generously open and well-lit spaces, 24-hour access, and studios shared with fellow students to inspire, collaborate, and critique their creations.

“It’s nice to have a space with the other thesis students as a community, a place to come together,” said Brooke Griffin. To her, the studios show that Harvard recognizes the importance of VES and its thesis students.

“I love VES. It’s almost like which part of that love to talk about,” said Zena Mengesha. “It’s really incredible to be able to dive into visual studies in the way VES sets it out. Human beings are such visually dependent creatures. And the attention that we pay to studying the visual world is relatively small … I don’t know if everybody thinks of art as an academically rigorous program, but it can be.”



︎︎
VES concentrators in studio art, film, video, and animation propose their thesis projects in the spring of their junior year, enroll in the program in the fall of their senior year, and work throughout the year to complete their projects. Just more than 70 percent of VES concentrators do a senior thesis. Starting on May 2, an exhibit of their final work will be on display in the Carpenter Center.

“It’s unique to get space, and such great space,” said Manager of Academic Programs for VES Paula Soares. “It’s a privilege, and it’s something that a lot of schools cannot give their undergraduates. But it’s not just the space, it’s the resources, the one-on-one attention. The experience is rich in a lot of ways.”

“This is truly a phenomenal resource to have. I will never have a studio space this nice in my life,” said Ethan Pierce. “Having access to these resources and materials as well as to the thesis budget really allows for an opportunity of exploration sans stress that is truly unique.”





Tony Cho investigates synthetic biology for this thesis project, “mainly two fields within that, microfluidics and self-assembly.” He makes interdisciplinary work with laser-cut acrylic that combines his interests in biology and the arts. 

Tony takes principles from DNA origami and brings them to the macro scale. He creates a video animation with tiles that move over a mixer. They hit each other randomly, and if the sequences on the side are complementary, they stay together; if not, they fall apart.
Matthew Plaks photographs communities around the country and tries to unravel what it means to be inside and outside a community. His images focus on “exclusion and solitude.” 

In less than three months, Matthew Plaks traveled across 21 states, through large cities and small towns as a wandering photographer, engaging with communities, and, at times, staying in the homes of strangers.
“My thesis project is a pop-up gallery called the BBP gallery, which stands for Baby Boy Pierce, which is my real name,” said Ethan Pierce. “It serves as a platform for an alternative artistic discourse.” 

“The gallery is a black metal sculptural object that used to have a life as a bookshelf that I wheel around on a red dolly,” said Ethan Pierce. “And I’m interested in the way it functions socially as I’m wheeling it through the streets of Cambridge and Boston, as well as architecturally in these spaces. But more importantly it’s the platform that it creates for interactions.”