April 6, 2016
It sits on the edge of campus — all crazy angles and shiny pleats and looking like something from out of this world. It doesn’t match anything around it. It’s confusing and different and yet, somehow it makes sense by the very fact that it’s nonsensical. Many people love it. Some people hate it. But everyone feels something when they look at it — which is exactly what art is supposed to do.
MSU’s Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum is big and bold and makes itself known, just like the architect who brought it to life. Zaha Hadid, the world-renowned, incredible talent who designed the Broad at MSU, passed away suddenly last week. I was saddened to learn that the world has lost this daring artistic force at far too young an age. I consider MSU to be extremely lucky to have the Broad, one of only two Zaha buildings in the United States. As Lou Anna K. Simon, president of MSU said, “Through the Broad Art Museum, Zaha's creative spirit will be part of MSU forever.”
I was fortunate enough to have witnessed that creative spirit in person while I worked on communications during the building and opening of the museum. I met Zaha a couple of times when she came to campus and once in New York. Amidst her crazy feather boas and noteworthy pleated collars, I knew I was standing next to brilliance. One of the coolest things I’ve been able to do was to be with her as she first set on eyes on the completed museum — her vision brought to life.
One of the first exhibits at the museum blended art and MSU’s agricultural roots — two seemingly incongruous topics. But it worked. In true Spartan spirit, the museum looks for diverse and interesting ways to not only bring art to the community, but to be an active partner in it.
For example, the museum is taking part in the MSU Science Festival. Yep, I said science. Most people don’t think that the two are related at all, but they are in ways you might not have thought of. As part of the festival, the museum will host events that explore the intersection between science and art through a number of activities. In the true spirit of Zaha, things that don’t necessarily match can be truly inspirational.
Elizabeth Simmons is a living example of how things that don’t seem to go together actually do. She is the dean of Lyman Briggs College and University Distinguished Professor of physics, but for a time was also acting dean of the College of Arts and Letters. She says her year of doing both reminded her “how crucial it is to pay attention in one’s own life to the arts and the sciences, to keep in touch with both kinds of human knowledge and human engagement with the world.” To learn more about her and her philosophy, read her FACULTY VOICE: Science, Art and Human Experience.
It’s no secret that the need for improving science literacy in the United States is important and Spartan experts and educators across all disciplines are working hard to do that. Check out the MSUTODAY FEATURE: Bringing Science to Life, to learn more about the efforts to ensure both student access and success and to help learners of all ages discover their inner scientist.
Lazarius Miller, a senior from Detroit majoring in biological sciences, discovered his inner scientist when he was just in middle school. He says he fell in love with science and winning a science fair solidified his desire to study it and ultimately teach science to others. As a Dean's Research Scholar and a member of the Urban Educator’s Cohort Program, he is well on his way. Check out his story and video in the STUDENT VIEW: A Mission to be Myself, to learn more about this motivated young man.
Dean Simmons and Lazarius exemplify what it is to be a Spartan. Spartans are confident, innovative, complex and determined. Spartans think outside the box and seek new solutions to old challenges. When I think about what Zaha created for MSU, I think she gave our museum Spartan spirit too. It’s bold and unflinching. It makes itself known. It challenges assumptions and seeks to bring together seemingly unrelated things. Not everyone loves it, but no one can deny its presence and influence. It’s a game changer. Spartans Will.
Photo of the Edythe and Eli Broad Art Museum by Derrick L. Turner