MLK Inspired Art & Performance Contest

The winners of the 2024 contest are noted below. Entrants were asked to use this year’s theme:

“We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character; that is the goal of true education.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

The winners are:

  • 2D visual art (drawing, painting, video): “Martin to Maslow,” by Kortni Foreman, UG. “This piece is fairly literal regarding the theme that intelligence and character are the true goals of education. In the foreground, Martin Luther King Jr. is speaking. I made him look past the viewer to push the idea that the conversation is not one-on-one, rather one to a larger crowd as Dr. King’s messages and ideas were nearly always spread through speeches or through publications. In the background, there is a classroom with people of different races learning about two fundamental ideas, one in an area of “intelligence” and the other in an area of “character”: derivation and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The students are facing in the same direction as the viewer, not only because facing the board makes logical sense, but because facing the same direction as the viewer creates a sense of similarity between the two in that they are both invested in an education of both intelligence and character. Additionally, rather than facing Martin, the orientation of the students shows that the (moral, not visual) focal point for the viewer should not be the speaker, but rather the lesson his quote teaches us.”
  • 3D visual art (sculpture, crafts, etc): “The girl with an armor of knowledge,” by Andrea Salas, staff. “If intelligence plus character is the goal of education, how well are we currently doing at the school level to achieve that goal? This art piece wants the spectator to reflect on how what is actually being taught at the elementary school helps to achieve MLK vision’s on education. This piece was inspired by my niece. At the center we see a girl of 11 years old that carries, within herself, the knowledge learned at the school, knowledge that she uses to understand and navigate through a jungle composed of the current problems in the world.”
  • Written word: “Miss Education,” by Akua Yeboah, UG. “In this piece, I write a letter to a character called “Miss Education”. She is the personification of formal western education. This piece attempts to show, through the open-ended nature of a letter, that education isn’t a one-and-done event. Education requires conversation. Although I share my misgivings with Miss Education in this letter, my education has done me well: I feel the freedom to respond to ideas that have been presented to me throughout my education.”

All submissions were displayed during business hours though Friday, February 16, 2024, in Lobby 10 with the 50th Anniversary Quilt.

Works of art displayed on easels in Lobby 10
MLK Art contest submissions for 2024

MLK 50th Anniversary Quilt

For this year only, in celebration of the 50th anniversary, we made a quilt as a community project.  

This beautiful quilt was the product of many hands in the MIT community. Contributors included MIT staff, students, and alumni, and hailed from corners of the Institute including the Libraries, MIT Health, the Alumni Association, Office of the Vice President for Research, the Office of Graduate Education, the School of Architecture & Planning, Literature, and Lincoln Labs.

The quilt honors Martin Luther King, Jr. in direct and indirect ways, as one square features his silhouette; one quotes “I’ve been to the mountain top;” and still another quotes “I have a dream.” One square shows a simple arc and hearts, referencing that the arc of the universe bends toward justice. Another referenced his initials and important years such as 1955 when he spoke to nearly 5,000 people at the Holt Baptist Church in Montgomery, four days after Mrs. Rosa Parks was arrested.

Some squares honor important concepts: one touts “ujima,” one of the principles of Kwanzaa, celebrating collective work and responsibility, while another proudly proclaims, “individually strong; collectively unstoppable.” A third acknowledges, “we rise by lifting others.” A fourth celebrates that “one child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world.” Other squares offer artistic word clouds meditating on courage, freedom, friendship, cultural identity, and character.

A number of squares proudly showcase the diversity of the Institute. There are references to the undergrad residential groups of Chocolate City and Juniper, the Office of Minority Education, and LBGTQ+ Services. One square honors the contributor’s own background, incorporating elements of Korean culture (2024 is the year of the blue dragon) and a drawing of a baby and pacifier, as the artist is currently expecting a child. 

A quilt with dominant colors of gold and grey, six squares across and four rows down.


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