When I arrived for my first interview to join the Expression Web team at Microsoft, I went past the receptionist's desk and through the glass entryway and was really surprised to be faced with a sculpture (titled "The Knight") by the folk artist Terry Turrell.

"The Knight" by Terry Turrell

There was no label nearby identifying the artist and the artwork but I knew right away that it was Turrell's artwork because I've been following his artwork since my freshman days in college when he was then selling painted t-shirts at a table in the Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle.

The work of his that I admire the most are (or is it "is"? where's my editor!?) his toy-like sculptures which are made with materials that appear to have come from a junk yard. I was excited to see Turrell's artwork at Microsoft because, hopefully, it means that the pieces I own of his are now worth something much more than I originally paid for them! :) I also felt like this was a positive sign that this was the right place for me to work.

I was subsequently impressed to learn that there is a Microsoft Art Collection and that Microsoft owns all of the artwork that is on display in every floor of every building on the Microsoft campus in Redmond. You can look at some of the artwork in the collection on this public website: http://www.microsoft.com/mscorp/artcollection/default.mspx

public homepage of the Microsoft Art Collection

There is also a website for Microsoft employees only, which we can use to see the entire collection online and search for artwork based on an artist's name or genre.

Previous places that I've worked at would rent artwork, and the artwork was chosen by a committee of volunteer employees, and so as you might imagine, the work wasn't all that inspiring...bland landscapes and still lifes...art-by-committee. As an artist myself, I think it's great that Microsoft believes in supporting art and believes that artwork is a wise investment, both culturally and financially.

The Microsoft Art Collection includes several pieces by local artists, including my former professor Paul Berger who teaches photography and digital imaging at the University of Washington, for the Photography program in the School of Art program. The Microsoft Art Collection appears to mostly contain pieces by artists that aren't local, and even has pieces by Chris Burden, an artist that is best known for some controversial performance artwork.

Anyway, I thought I'd blog about the Art Collection at Microsoft because it's NOT just a benefit for only Microsoft employees. The folks behind the collection also run programs that the public is welcome to participate in, including:

  • Weekly guided tours 
  • Online exhibitions
  • Artist lecture series (requires registration)
  • Monthly book discussions
  • And a film series

And all of these programs are FREE and as I said, available to the public.

So what are you waiting for? Get your art on people! @ Microsoft !

http://www.microsoft.com/mscorp/artcollection/default.mspx

If you're a Microsoft employee, there's a more in-depth website that lets you search the entire collection:

 http://refweb/sites/artweb/Pages/default.aspx

Anna

p.s. This is NOT an April Fools' Day post! :)  Really, it isn't, for reals.